Last night, we found ourselves at House of Blues yet again this week for the second of our two shows during concert week.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Posted by Jason at 9:04 AM
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Concert week started with Monday night's show at House of Blues with 3 Doors Down and Hoobastank.
I'm a bit surprised that I was quite adamant to see 3 Doors Down. They are one of those bands that have a lot of really good songs and more than a few absolute smashes. I thought it would be a fun combination of band and venue, and it was.
It may not seem this way all the time, but at heart, I am a rock guy.
I heard on WFNX this morning that the line for the J. Geils show at the House of Blues' opening last week was simply dreadful. People were waiting for an hour in the rain while the security staff took forever to clear attendees.
So when Tye and I found a line about 80 people deep, we weren't too optimistic. Thankfully, it went quickly, and we were inside within about 10 minutes.
Wisely, we skipped the coat check. Good call - there were way too many people trying to get their coats at the same time after the show. It looked like chaos.
Once we walked into the concert hall, the first opener, Safety Suit, was still on stage. We navigated up the right-hand side toward stage left, realizing that it wasn't agonizingly loud. So we grabbed a couple overpriced drinks ($6.50 for a can of Corona, and $7.50 for a tiny shot of vodka), and kept walking until we were literally on the side of the stage - quite a cool spot from which to view the show.
I must say, the actual concert venue doesn't seem much different from Avalon beyond the brightly colored paintings and artwork adorning all of the walls. There's also two balconies, the top one also containing some stadium seating. Perhaps it didn't seem too different because all of the shows I saw at Avalon, I was on the general admission floor, the same spot where I stood Monday night.
Hoobastank was OK. They played most of their singles, but the crowd simply wasn't into them. They played for about 40 minutes and closed with "The Reason" (their only sing-a-long song) and "Crawling in the Dark."
3 Doors Down took the stage around 9:30 and simply owned it. They had the audience from the first note - great stage presence, tight songs, and lots of popular songs. Overall, pretty amazing.
The bassist kept coming over to our side and every so often let a few of the women nearby strum his bass. Eventually he threw a pick at me, but it bounced off of my stomach and was picked up by someone who I'm sure appreciates it more than I would have.
Their set had all of the hits:
Be Like That
Here Without You
Duck and Run
Landing in London
Away From the Sun
It's Not My Time
When I'm Gone
...and about 6 or 7 others.
I didn't even feel too old to be there. The crowd was mixed, and seemed pretty well put-together, given what I expected of 3 Doors Down concert attendees.
Overall, two thumbs up!
Posted by Jason at 12:05 AM
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I will never admit to being the most informed person in the room. But I do enjoy making decisions based on information. Beyond luck, that's the elegance of a quality poker player - one who can utilize the information presented and make informed decisions.
This morning, my father echoed the sentiments of many about the component of Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan that addressed mortgage bailouts. He sounded like the many folks who played by the rules and are understandably salty by having to rescue those who did not.
I get it. But, I must admit that I do not agree.
Fortunately, I have made every single one of my mortgage payments on time - almost six years of them. I'm always on time with all of my bills and I live within my means. My obligations are few, as I have no dependents but myself.
There's a stat making the rounds that 93% of mortgage holders pay on time every month. But according to The Boston Globe, 9 MILLION people are either facing foreclosure or cannot pay their mortgages. That's a whole lot of people.
There's also 12 MILLION people unemployed - probably more, as unemployment factors out those who have simply given up and aren't looking for work anymore.
While those stats aren't necessarily additive, it's a ton of people. We live in a society with many moving parts. What some folks don't realize is that they don't exist in a bubble. What affects their neighbor affects them too. What's better - foreclosing many homes around you and living in a ghost town, or helping out those in need to keep the community alive?
It's not optimal - but it's the lesser of two evils.
I gave an example to my father today about school taxes. We are in the same situation. We don't presently have children who benefit from the local public school system, yet we all pay our taxes, a portion of which funds the schools.
Would I prefer not to pay for public education of strangers? Sure.
But I understand why I have to. It's part of living where I do. I choose to live in a society that allows for its children to be educated. It's a no-brainer. We can't have throngs of kids running around Lord of the Flies style, uneducated and uncivil.
Unfortunately the "me" mindset in which we exist has to stop. The greedy need to realize that their avarice affects others. Perhaps not right then and there, but it contributes to a longer-term failure. And now, the greedy are those who are not satisfied with their economic stimuli because others are receiving more.
Those who are in stronger financial positions need to shut up and deal with this. There's a ton of people struggling - whether through bad choices of their own, predatory lending, job loss, whatever. Don't point fingers. Move on. Be a better person, figure out how to help, and be thankful that you don't have to be bailed out.
Getting people into the mindset of government bailouts as fallbacks is certainly not good practice. But I would take being passed over for bailouts because I'm solvent ANY DAY over needing assistance. I'm not asking "where's my bailout," but rather appreciative that at this point, I don't need one.
Greed is ugly. It got us into this mess in the first place, and it continues to linger.
On Saturday, I was supposed to head up to New Hampshire for lunch with my high school friend Ken and his family. Unfortunately, I had a message during the week that his wife and kids were sick, and we should probably reschedule. I totally understood (as I, and seemingly the rest of New England, were still working through colds).
Trips to New Hampshire are always fun because they always include pit stops at the NH State Liquor Store. I was a bit bummed that I'd have to wait a while longer for cheap(er) booze.
Undaunted, I latched onto another opportunity to head north to The Granite State.
Mike has mentioned a clearance store called "Mr. G's," to which I seem to have figured higher education for this "G" character because I always called it "Dr. G's." I proposed a road trip there on Saturday afternoon.
Turns out Mr G's is in Tilton, NH, in a nondescript strip mall anchored by a Dollar Store and a Curves. No fanfare whatsoever.
I walked inside and immediately felt dirty. It was a strange vibe.
We wandered over to the clothing section, where Mike assured me everything was both new and 50% off. I couldn't help but find lint and cat hair on a few items, but I took his word for it. They did have some name-brand items, but nothing that struck a chord for me.
We ventured over to the over-the-counter drugs and medical section, where I found some cheap Purell and Mike went for some diet supplements. He grabbed a Luna bar for 10 cents, which I further inspected to find an expiration date within a week or two.
Warning sign. OK, filed it away.
Onward to the aisles of food and paper products. I saw a large section of tissues boxes, all which appeared as though they were thrown from and run over by a truck. It's a clearance center, I thought. Everything shouldn't be perfect.
We walked by the candy - Mike's weakness. He grabbed some sugary snacks. I continued.
I saw that the Christmas Candy was deeply discounted. Hmmm...Christmas was 2 months ago. They're still selling Holiday candy? Odd, I thought.
Then I found a display of salad dressings, olive oil, and mayonnaise. All inexpensive.
All expired. October 2008. 4 months ago.
I always wondered where expired, unsold food products went to die. It appears they live on in Tilton, NH, consumed by the good citizens of Central New Hampshire.
Maybe I can see expired salad dressing. Oil and vinegar. Seems pretty preservative-ish. I wouldn't put it past me using the last of some salad dressing in my fridge that just passed its expiration date.
But purchasing salad dressing new (or especially mayo new), knowing that it has already expired - that doesn't seem all that safe to me.
What I loved the most is the sign. "Out of Date Still Tastes Great"
Hmmm. Do they mean going down or coming back up?
I left Mr. G's with a few bottles of water and some miscellaneous products. We swung by some of the nearby Factory Outlets, and hit up BJ's Wholesale and, of course, the NH State Liquor Store to complete the trip.
At least I can now say that I have been to Mr. G's. I won't feel like I'm missing out on anything each time he and Jeff discussed it.
And, most certainly, I now realize that this G character is no Doctor.
Posted by Jason at 9:47 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Last night, I headed over to 28 Degrees in the South End for $1 oysters, something they serve weeknights from 5pm-7pm. It's a great way to attract people into the place during a slower period and make some legit revenue.
Our $1 oysters quickly became a $40 tab per person!
You don't see too many places using normally $2.75 oysters as a loss leader, but if they can squeeze a few thousand weekly out of a normally dead couple of hours, AND have the reputation as the $1 oyster place, then good for them.
The rest of the menu looks good, albeit a bit expensive. The drinks certainly are on the high end. At Karin's suggestion before I left work, I had a blueberry basil martini, which unfortunately seemed more like a small glass of $13 blueberry slushie. When I'm having a fruity cocktail, I'd prefer to taste the booze somewhere inside. The $9.50 prosciutto and melon martini was certainly stronger, and tasted more like something I wouldn't make at home, which is something I seek when I'm out boozing (i.e. I don't exactly have beer taps at home, so I usually go for draft beer - something 28 degrees did not have).
It's nice to see somewhere in this city where I can have a dozen oysters for $12. I felt spoiled after my trips to New Orleans a few years ago, where oysters are usually less than a buck each. I do believe that I prefer the charm of New Orleans raw bars and cajun restaurants to the ones up here, but it's a bit of a hike to travel to Louisiana whenever the oyster urge hits.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Friday night was Todd's birthday dinner. We picked Fajitas & Ritas, but unfortunately I had to veto the place before the night's end. It was a bit of an impetuous veto, and a little borderline, but nonetheless a veto occurred. Vetos cannot be reversed.
I remember it as having been a decent place to eat the last time I went there. Nothing special, but nothing terrible.
Our party of 8 arrived around 9pm. Ryan had called ahead twice.
When we showed up, they had no record of our calling ahead. Figures.
So we waited.
Right there in the dining room across from the bar. 8 people standing around. We watched as couples and parties behind us (including a party of 7) were seated before us.
I took a walk to find an ATM, and upon my return, a round of tequila shots magically appeared, thanks to Christopher the magician.
So we continued waiting and soon realized it was 9:45. I kind of flew off the handle then.
I walked up the the chip boy who was helping us - no host was in site - and asked when our table would be ready. He said he did not know and couldn't tell us.
Seriously? 45 minutes of waiting and still nothing? Parties seated behind us after we called ahead? I'm thinking this is a joke.
So I told him that we were leaving. I turned around, told my friends that he didn't have a table for us nor knew when he would have one.
When I'm hungry, I can get grumpy. And with no progress in sight, I got a bit huffy.
Doug tried to diffuse the situation by saying that the chip boy was going to buy a round of drinks for us. I thought that was odd. So I turned around, asked the chip boy if he was buying a round of drinks for us.
He said no. So I said OK, let's go.
I would have been more patient had I felt that they were putting forth an iota of effort. Tables went visibly unbussed for extended periods of time. But more importantly, when we called ahead twice, showed up to find them shrugging their shoulders, and watched them seat a party of 7 who showed up after we did, I was done.
We went next door to Max & Dylan's where we had put our name in 20 minutes prior. While our table wasn't ready, they were more than accommodating to put together a few bar table hightops and make it work for us. That was very nice of them.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Well, I'm about 40 hours into my bionic left eye, and I'm trying to be patient as my vision returns to a state that resembles where it once was.
Everything seems to be on schedule.
My pupil is no longer dilated as of this morning. I noticed the diameter began shrinking last night. Driving to work yesterday morning, even with sunglasses on, wasn't the most pleasant experience.
My ability to focus on distant objects is also much improved now. In fact, My distant vision appears better in my bionic eye vs. my natural one now. I am no longer seeing through a cloudy cataract-affected lens - almost to the point that when comparing the vision between eyes, I'm wondering if I'm starting to see a bit cloudy through the right eye. Let's hope that's not the case yet.
My ability to focus on intermediate objects is improving, but still fuzzy. I was told during the follow-up appointment yesterday that things should become better after about a week or two. As long as I'm seeing improvement every day, I'll be happy.
My near distance is what's concerning to me. Although this is the final focal length to improve after installation of a Crystalens (according to everything I have read), I have never had trouble with my near vision. It's certainly different. I just hope I didn't sacrifice my close-up vision in an effort to remove some cloudiness. Patience certainly will be a virtue here.
So the plan is to return for another appointment in a month. Between now and then, my current glasses prescription will make life a bit confusing. I see better through my left eye without them, but better through my right eye with them. But there's no sense having a prescription written now, as it will assuredly change within the coming weeks.
Posted by Jason at 7:28 AM
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Yesterday was the day for my new eyeball.
Specifically, a new lens for my left eyeball.
A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a cataract in my left eye. It had been as if a hazy film was over the field of vision from my left eye, and a noticeable different from what I saw from my right eye. It was most noticeable when looks at lights during nighttime - there was a wider glow around light sources. Very misty London Sherlock Holmes-esque.
I did what all smart patients do these days, and self-diagnosed myself with a cataract. For a second opinion, I went to The Nielsen Eye Center in Quincy, and sure enough Dr. Nielsen confirmed it. He also mentioned how uncommon it was for someone my age to have a cataract without having had head trauma, diabetes, or having taken steroids. To my knowledge, none of that applies to me. Both of my grandmothers had cataract surgery...but they were in their 60's or older when they had the procedures.
So surgery was scheduled for yesterday. Karin drove me to the Cataract Center in Dedham for a 1:30 check-in. When I opened the door, I was greeted by a full waiting room of elderly people. The guy sitting next to me had his oxygen tank on. The lady across from me had her walker-on-wheels. The conversation in the air was from comforting spouses who had already had their cataract surgeries. This appears to be a rite of passage for the geriatric crowd. Well, and me.
Everything seemed to go well. they called my name, took my vital signs, gave me some drops to dilate my eye, sat me down in a comfy recliner where I was given a sedative by IV, and then brought into the operating room. The anesthesiologist was the third or fourth person to tell me that I was the baby of the patient crowd this week.
I believe the actual procedure took about 8 minutes. I recall feeling some type of clamp that held my eyelids open, saw two rectangular lights and lots of swirly colors as they ripped my faulty God-given lens from my cornea, and then mild pressure when my new Crystallens was implanted.
Unlike my wisdom teeth surgery over a decade ago, I did not ask to take my extracted body part home. I still have my wisdom teeth in an envelope at my parents' house. I figure they were mine, so why not keep them? Unfortunately, I think my fault lens was liquefied and sucked out, so not much to take with me.
I waited in recovery for a few minutes, received my post-surgery instructions and my fancy old-person shades, and was walked out to the waiting room where Ryan awaited to deliver me back home.
I was given a small plant from their coat / plant closet to take home (where a sign was hung notifying patients that plants were only for Cataract patients and not Lasix patients. Sweet! In your face, Lasix people. No free plant for you). I chose a short succulent over the mini-daffodils, thinking that it would last longer.
So I have to return today for a follow-up appointment, and then in about another month for a second follow-up. I'm on a series of drugs, and not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds or bend over without bending my knees. My eye's pupil is actually still pretty well-dilated from yesterday.
Since I elected to have the $1,900 multi-focal lens into my eye (and not the generic single-focus lens), I should be able to focus at objects of all distances once I'm fully recovered. The "what to expect" documents explain that my distant vision should be improved today or tomorrow, and my intermediate vision should return in a couple weeks. The up-close vision may take longer, like up to 6 weeks.
All of my computer usability this morning is thanks to my right eye. Thank you, right eye.
Posted by Jason at 7:10 AM
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Why was I stuck in horrible traffic this past Saturday afternoon on 93 South?
The Butterfly Effect...
1. I'm inherently frugal.
2. Last Monday, Rosie and I encountered a woman down the street. I've seen her walking her dog often, and she, I'm sure, recognized us. We chatted. She mentioned that her dog was on a special diet now and asked what food Rosie ate. Turns out the bag-and-a-half that she had left over was the same brand as Rosie's. She asked if I wanted it.
3. I dropped Rosie off and returned to pick up the food. I offered her $20, but she refused. The food was the same brand, but the beef flavor, and not the chicken one. I figured I'd try mixing her usual flavor with this and then switch over to the new flavor. I read that's how you introduce dogs to new food.
4. Rosie ate the first bowl of the mixed food. I figured I was in the clear.
5. I was wrong. Rosie then stopped eating for a couple days, puking some clean phlegm a few times one morning last week. She even turned her nose up to treats.
6. She then stopped pooping. She had nothing to poop out. Not to mention that the temperatures and wind chill were vicious. Even she didn't like walking on the cold, crunchy snow/ice...and unfortunately Rosie likes pooping on grassy areas, none of which existed last week.
7. It finally occurred to me on Friday that perhaps I should switch back to her original flavor of dog food. Unfortunately, I was headed out Friday night, and then on the road by 8am Saturday morning. I should have remembered that Stop & Shop at South Bay is 24 Hours, but I didn't.
8. Since Ryan was dogsitting for the day, I left him a note to cook some chicken for her. He did so and gave her a potato as well, all of which she apparently devoured, confirming to me that she was indeed hungry but just didn't like the new flavor of food. Apparently she also pooped out a ton when they went for a walk, being that lots of melting had occurred and there were once again desired surfaces on which to poop.
9. So I'm coming back from Connecticut on the Pike and decided to take it to 93 South and hit up either the South Bay Stop & Shop or the Shaw's at the JFK/UMass T Stop. Smooth sailing back from Connecticut. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on 93 South midday on a Saturday. Huh?
10. I figured I'd just deal with it for a mile and get off my usual exit # 15 / Columbia Road. Unfortunately, it appears that a police officer had the exit blocked, which I had never seen before. Ever.
11. I turn on WBZ trying to find out what's happening. The Bruins are on. Great.
12. My next opportunity to turn around is Exit 12 - in 3 MILES....of bumper-to-bumper traffic caused by tons of people seeking to get off Exit 12 and turn around. Traffic cleared up after Exit 12.
13. Eventually, I made it to the exit, turned around, hopped back on 93 North, and passed my exit AGAIN due to excessive exiting traffic. Something must be happening at the Bayside Expo, I thought. I got off at Andrew Square and headed to the Southie Stop & Shop.
14. I ended up at home 45 minutes after I first got on 93 South, a process which should have taken 5 minutes.
15. I'm then informed that the Bayside Expo Center was hosting some Super Liquidation clearance sale. Ugh. Aren't these shows usually a bunch of crap vendors with second-hand, overstock, or refurbished junk? THIS was causing such a traffic backup? Grrr....
16. If I had never accepted the dog food, I would have never needed to buy the old flavor of food and would have taken a different route home from Connecticut.
The Butterfly Effect.
Posted by Jason at 8:48 PM
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I truly love the random things that happen to me sometimes.
A few of my photos have run for some local periodicals, most notably The Boston Globe.
But now, I am a published photographer in China.
Well, specifically Taiwan.
A few months ago, I received this email:
I'm an editor in Taipei, Taiwan. And I 'm editing a book about Popeye.
I saw a Popeye Statue pic you took on the internet. I love it so much and I want to put the photo in our book.
I want to make children learn more and feel interested.
Would you please give me the permission to use the photo? (Please send me the pic by email)
Sure, I will amrk put your name under the pic. Please reply me soon and thank you so much!Best Wishes,
At first, I was a bit suspicious. I figured that by providing information about myself, I would be entering some Mexican lottery or reaping my rightful portion of a Ghanaian prince's fortune.
But I figured, hey it's just a photo. I take pictures for fun and am flattered when others find use for them.
This is the actual photo I took in Chester, IL - the apparent home of Popeye.
I responded from this blog's email address and kept my contact info relatively vague. When she emailed me a second time for my address, wishing to send me a copy of the published book, I relented and gave her my work address. Just to be safe.
I then totally forgot about all of this.
Sure enough, I walk into my office yesterday, and there's a package from The Far East Book Company addressed to me.
The book appears to be a vocabulary and comprehension book for Chinese natives seeking to learn English.
Right next to the above photo is my name and some Chinese character. Perhaps it's my name in Chinese.
Nonetheless, I can chalk this up to the strange, interesting, and bizarre.
Posted by Jason at 7:15 AM
For some reason, I got it in my mind that I wanted to go see 3 Doors Down during the opening week at House of Blues Boston. Lots of hits. New venue. Why not?
My friend Tye said he'd come. Perfect. I'll get tickets.
Or so I thought.
The show has not been an immediate sell-out, but I still possess no tickets.
Live Nation service fees.
Boy is this a sign of my cheapness. But it's plain and simple robbery when the only method of purchasing tickets is online, and they tack what amounts to $11 of convenience / facilities / whatever fees to EACH $38 ticket.
$40 for Hoobastank and 3 Doors Down? Sure, why not.
$50? Pushing it.
I thought I would go to the House of Blues Box Office, inconveniencing myself but saving $20. Unfortunately, their website has no phone number for the venue. Perhaps the box office isn't open yet, as the venue sure isn't.
So I thought I would call some of the other Live Nation venues in Boston to see if I can purchase tickets for shows at other venues.
I tried calling the Paradise Rock Club, resulting in a recording with information and such, but no live person. There was a "for further information" number which I called, but that simply rang and rang.
I called the Orpheum. Recording. No option for further assistance. "Live Nation" is clearly a misnomer.
Bank of America Pavillion. Recording. Box Office opens in May...but there was a general information number for Live Nation.
So I called that number. Live person. Sweet.
She mentioned that some Blockbuster stores would soon become ticket outlets for Live Nation, a fact of which livenation.com had already made me aware. She looked up my zip code and learned what I already knew - the Blockbuster option in Boston is "Coming Soon."
I asked if Live Nation venues were able to sell tickets for events at other Live Nation locations, but she wasn't certain.
I then asked for a phone number for House of Blues Boston, and she had one! So I called it.
Busy signal? Who hears these anymore?
All this just to save $20 and avoid paying the absurd convenience fees. I still haven't succumbed yet, but I now realize how INconvenient they make it otherwise for people seeking tickets.
This reminds me of the days when online banking cost $5 per month. It was a joke. I was saving the bank money by banking online, and they were charging me a fee for something that they were promoting and making their lives easier. Fewer humans and branches needed. Savings to them. Yet they still charged consumers. Good thing that's now a free service.
But there's lots of banks. They need to stay competitive. There's few outlets to purchase tickets from non-brokers. It's a total racket and unfair. I'd rather them charge me $49 for a ticket than $38 plus $11 in fees. Sometimes knowing less is more.
Monday, February 02, 2009
I remember a year ago so vividly.
The Monday after the Super Bowl, just having seen one of the greatest endings in Super Bowl history. My two favorite teams fighting it out, and my top team (Giants) winning in such incredible fashion.
I remember being on cloud nine for months, starting with today.
I can see our hotel room. I still remember the streets of Tempe, Arizona. I remember where we had lunch before our flight, and remember the long two-day process of returning to Boston (booking a last-minute flight on miles got us from Phoenix to Minneapois on Monday evening, and then onward to Boston first thing in the morning).
I remember it all - and for the better part of 2008, it was great to casually drop in conversation, albeit with arrogant intent.
"Oh yeah, I was out there for last year's Super Bowl"
:: (varied astonished reactions) ::
The Giants are no longer the reigning champs. They made a great run at it this year, though. My cousins were already scheming for a lottery to see who got the family Super Bowl tickets this year, should we have been fortunate enough to have received a pair again. Then, the Giants failed to show up to most games in December and January, and poof....they're gone.
It's a memory I will take to my grave. Everyone should be so fortunate enough to have seen their team win it all in the big one, live in the stadium.
The sights, the smells, the sounds. The camaraderie. The spectacle.
It's been a year, it's officially now history.
Posted by Jason at 7:34 AM