Road Trip Day 31 - 2007-08-19

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today I tried to get up at 6:00 in the hopes of heading over to Cedar Point, which is an amusement park with a ton of awesome roller coasters. Unfortunately, I overslept by about 2 hours and when I checked the forecast it said it was going to rain all day. Then I decided that it would be best just to head on home.

After saying goodbye to Brian, I headed out on the long, 12 hour drive I had ahead of me. I wish I had gotten an earlier start, but no such luck. I hit some traffic after I entered Pennsylvania: the road narrowed from 2 to 1 lane and traffic was backed up for about 7 miles and going at about 10-15 MPH, so I was stuck there for a while. When I finally got to the spot where the traffic merged, the car that was behind me tried to pull around and cut in front of me. Fat chance! I gassed it and got ahead of her and flipped her the bird. Not cool!

A few hours later I hit another bit of traffic caused by similar construction, but the delay was only about a half hour rather than the hour I had before. That's another cool thing about the GPS, since it gives you an ETA that is updated in realtime, you can figure out how much a delay cost you in terms of time quite easily. Yay GPS! That thing has been great for this trip.

When I was driving through New York, a cop pulled behind me and put on his lights, so I pulled over. He informed me that he witnessed me driving partly in the shoulder and that this typically indicates that a driver is drunk or tired. I informed him that I was neither drunk nor tired and would be more cautious in the future. He let me off without a ticket, which was quite a relief. My heart rate soon returned to normal.

I still had about 5 hours to go at this point, which is always an irritating point to be at in a drive. I managed to make it back to my parent's house by 1:00, where my parents greeted me.

Road Trip Day 30 - 2007-08-18

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After getting a good night of sleep, Brian and I headed out for breakfast. First we went over to get his friends, Zach and Luke, who live in an apartment nearby. We headed over to Scramblers, a breakfast place nearby. The waitress was extremely friendly and the food was good. I got a bacon and cheese omelette, which was pretty good but way too much food for me.

Then we dropped Zach and Luke off and went back to play some X-Box 360. We played a bit of Gears of War online with other folks and I got destroyed. Fortunately it was team-based so even though I was getting killed a lot and not helping out much, we managed to win quite a few of our matches.

We started to get hungry again, so we went over to La Paloma for some sopapilla's, which at this place are kinda like enchilada's but made with a flakey dough. It reminded me of cornish pasties in England, but with cheese and mexican flavoring.

Then we went back to Brian's place and played some Need for Speed, which was awesome. I love driving games and the graphics were incredible in HD. I was completely blown away by the realism. I wasn't much competition for Brian, so he had me play some of the story mode which was fun. I might need to get one of these if I ever have a big wad of money burning a hole in my pocket.

For dinner we headed over to a pub that Brian and his friends frequent. Zach came along and we met up with another friend. The place was nice, but we arrived there 1 minute after they stopped serving the dinner menu, which was annoying. We got some appetizers instead which were pretty tasty. I got some BBQ wings with this Guinness BBQ sauce which was good, though I think I would have preferred the buffalo sauce instead.

Road Trip Day 29 - 2007-08-17

Here is a map of today's drive:,+AR&daddr=Reynoldsburg,+OH&sll=35.40423,-93.25298&sspn=1.325286,2.581787&ie=UTF8&z=6&om=1

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today I drove from Little Rock, Arkansas to Reynoldsburg, Ohio to see a long-time friend of mine named Brian. We met about 12 years ago playing X-Wing vs. Tie fighter together online: we both flew for the same squadron (a group of folks that competed together) and have stayed in touch ever since. I'd never seen him in person before, so I was looking forward to that.

After saying goodbye to Steph I drove for about 12 hours to arrive in Reynoldsburg by 10:30PM. Brian showed me around his place and then told me that he had to go back to work for a bit to take care of a few things. He works for Victoria's Secret doing IT support and offered to show me around the distribution facilities they had just built. Of course, I was quite eager to see it since I love seeing manufacturing and other types of automation.

Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures in the facility, but it was really cool. There were these high-tech conveyor belts going all through the building. Brian informed me that they were completely electro-magnetic which makes them quiet and very energy efficient. Also, each section of the belt has rollers that can be activated to slide the item on that section to one side or the other. Combined with the overhead barcode readers at various points in the belt, it allowed specific items to be delivered to different areas across the building.

After getting the grand tour and seeing Brian fix up a few broken workstations, we headed back to his place to play Gears of War on his X-Box 360. The game is a first-person-shooter and is quite fun. I was very impressed by the image quality the system could put out (1080p) and how nice it looked on his TV. He even has surround-sound speakers for the full effect. Very cool!

Road Trip Day 28 - 2007-08-16

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today we had to check out of the cabin at Devil's Den, so everybody packed up and headed back to Justin's house. For lunch we decided to go to a hamburger place that Justin likes called Wes's BBQ. The food was quite tasty and the service was surprisingly good for a place where you seat yourself. The waitress remembered who ordered what even though there were 7 people in our group and we had ordered at the counter.

I drove to and from the Wes's in Justin's Geo and managed to scare the hell out of both Amber and Mandy who feared for thier lives with all the lurching and stalling that was going on. I though I had the hang of it, but I think I need a bit more practice.

We saw this tremendous spider near Justin's front door (see photos). I'm surprised I hadn't noticed it before, it was really quite large. Its discovery drew a crowd of kids from the neighborhood.

Since Justin's family would be staying at his house and things would be a bit crowded, I decided to bid farewell to Fayetteville and head over to Little Rock to visit Stephanie who was house sitting for her parents.

She showed me some of the sights in Little Rock like the Clinton Library (which was closed by the time we got to it) and Little Rock Central High School. After that we decided to grab a bite at a pizza place in town. They had a very tasty deep dish pizza that was similar to the type I got in Berkeley with Paul. This crust was even better though, I think.

When we got back to Steph's parent's place, we hung out for a little while with her mini daschunds which were adorable. At first they were barking quite a bit but eventually they calmed down and sat on my lap. They are named Bailey and Riley. Bailey snuggled down between Steph and I, which was pretty cute.

Road Trip Day 27 - 2007-08-15

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today we got a pretty late start. Justin whipped up some of his fantastic omelettes as well as some fried eggs for breakfast, then we just hung around for a bit deciding what to do. Joe and Corey headed out to Fayetteville to take care of some work and grab some groceries. Justin and I decided to go check out some of the caves around Devil's Den Park. Mandy's foot was hurting, so she wasn't really up for a hike and Amber decided not to go.

The trail was well marked and nicely kept. They had a lot of neat steps made of of stone and such. There were several places where we had to go uphill for a while, but it wasn't too bad. I'm not much of a fan of hiking unless we are headed somewhere interesting, and fortunately we were headed for a cave!

The first cave we got to was Devil's Den cave, which looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, our flashlight was not nearly bright enough to navigate with any ease. We went in about 50 feet and decided to come out. It was so dim that we had to proceed very slowly, so getting to the end of the cave would have taken a very long time.

We hiked along the trail a bit and came to several crevasses which were pretty cool. One was relatively short and you could see the light on the other end, so I went through that one and Justin met me at the other end.

Next, we got to the Ice Box cave, which wis indeed quite chilly. It was a welcome break from the heat of the day. We didn't feel like venturing into this one, since the path would be difficult to navigate in the dark with a weak flashlight.

We continued along the Devil's Den trail, which looped back around to where it began. Tired and sweaty, we headed over to the pool to cool off. We swam around a bit with Mandy, Amber, and Nikki's brother Christian who arrived while we were out.

It was getting to be dinner time, so we headed back to the cabin to cook up some food. Justin made a platter of sushi ingredients and taught everybody how to roll thier own sushi, which was entertaining. They turned out pretty well! Then he cooked up some steaks in a marinade that he made, which was also quite tasty.

Road Trip Day 26 - 2007-08-14

Check out the pictures I took today:

I spent today hanging out with Justin and his family. His mother Meg, his brother Joe, his brother's wife Corey, and his niece Amber drove down from Connecticut. So we're all hanging out along with Nikki, Nikki's sister Mandy, and Blue.

We slept in pretty late due to the late night, but eventually we got up and had some scrambled eggs for breakfast. Justin used Meg's recipe which includes some yogurt, something I'd never heard of adding to scrambled eggs before. Indeed, they were quite tasty! I'll have to try that myself some time.

After that, Justin and I went down to the pool with Amber for a swim. The pool was nice, though a bit crowded. The water was a good temperature and they had a pair of small water slides. After we swam for a bit, the lifeguard called for a 10 minute break and everybody had to get out of the pool, so we headed back to the cabin for some lunch.

Justin whipped up a salad and some bagel bites for lunch. The salad was great, it had some mixed greens with avocado, pine nuts, and cucumber. We needed to get some more stuff for dinner, so Mandy, Nikki, Justin, Blue, and I headed back to Fayetteville to get some things from Justin's house and go shopping at Wal-Mart.

When checking out at Wal-Mart, Justin noticed that his total was quite a bit higher than we had both guessed, so he looked at the details and noticed that he had been charged for 47 cucumbers instead of 4, which was about $30. We had to go to the customer service counter since the cashier had already closed the transaction, and they gave Justin a refund.

When we got back, Justin cooked up some homemade pesto that he put on some pasta and asparagus. Then we just hung around and talked for a bit. Quite a relaxing day.

Road Trip Day 25 - 2007-08-13

Here's a map of my route for today, 896 miles!,+NM&daddr=Fayetteville,+AR&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=54.22533,82.617188&ie=UTF8&z=6&om=1

Check out the picture I took today:

Today I hit the road at around 8:30 mountain time. I got a decent night of sleep, though the stupid train blowing its horn every few hours kept waking me up. Also, I only got about 7 hours, so I wasn't quite feeling fully rested.

Again, not too much to say about today: I was on the road for most of the day heading to Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas to meet up with Justin and his family. For lunch I stopped at a Mexican restaurant in the same town I stopped at Home Run Pizza on the way out. I got some tacos which were pretty mediocre: the shells were stale and the meat didn't have much flavor. I honestly think that Taco Bell would have been tastier. That's the thing with local places, they can be pretty hit-or-miss.

I continued driving on into Texas and Oklahoma, which was pretty slow going. I stopped at McDonald's for a quick bite since I was eager to get where I was going. My current ETA was around 12:30, and I didn't want to make it much later than that.

When I finally got to approach Devil's Den Park in Arkansas, the road turned into a dirt road and I still had about 10 miles to go. That wasn't a lot of fun: I was getting jostled all over the place and wasn't entirely sure where I was supposed to go. Fortunately, the GPS was able to get me to the park, but I had no idea where the cabin Justin was renting could be. I drove all around the park looking for it, but didn't have much luck. Eventually, I found the information center which had a free map available. This helped me find the place for an arrival time of 12:50 CST. That was quite a long drive!

After I got there, I had a few drinks with Justin and his brother Joe. Like Justin, Joe is very interested in people's motivations for their career paths. We had quite a lively discussion about the merits of what it was that I decided to do with my life, which was pretty interesting. After that, we watched a few South Park episodes and headed to bed at 4:00am.

Road Trip Day 24 - 2007-08-12

Here's a map of my route for today, 944 miles!,+ca&daddr=gallup,+nm&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.901912,82.617188&ie=UTF8&z=6&om=1

Check out the pictures I took today:

So I got up around 8:00 today, said goodbye to Paul and then hit the road. Unfortunately, there is not much more to report than that. I was on the road from 8:30am till 11:30pm. I was shooting to make it to Albuquerque, and almost made it. I am now in Gallup, NM which is about 100 miles west of Albuquerque, leaving me with an acceptable 13 hour drive for tomorrow, which was my goal.

I stopped for lunch at this little burger joint that looked like it wasn't a chain. I asked for a bacon double cheeseburger and ended up with a single, non-bacon cheeseburger, but at least they remembered to leave off the tomatoes and onions. It turns out that was plenty of food anyway, and I didn't really need the bacon all that much.

For dinner I went to Jack in the Box, which was a place I liked to go to back when I lived in Arizona. I like to go into places, rather than drive-through, but this place was swarming with flies to the point that I had to go eat out in my car. Other than that, the dining experience was fine: I had a spicy crispy chicken sandwich with curly fries. Not bad at all!

So now I'm staying in a Howard Johnson at some truck stop in Gallup, NM for only $30/night! Not too shabby. The place isn't spectacular, but it seems clean enough. My only concern is potential noise from the train, I heard one go by and when it honked its horn it was pretty loud, but I'll probably be able to sleep through it. Tomorrow I have a long way to drive, so I'll need a good rest.

Road Trip Day 23 - 2007-08-11

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today Paul, Lauren, and I went up to Point Reyes to go kayaking. We got out the door at about 10:00 after a breakfast of cereal and bananas. Then we stopped by Albertsons to pick up some sandwiches. I got a foot long turkey sandwich on a baguette, which for some reason they ended up cutting into 4 pieces and putting on one of those foam trays like you put meat on. It was annoying because it didn't fit in my cooler without disassembling the whole thing.

We drove up to Point Reyes, which was a beautiful drive, but when we got to the kayak rental place, they informed us that it was quite windy and that we should go out on the pier to check out the conditions for ourselves. Sure enough, it was blowing about 15mph and it was pretty chilly. We decided to have lunch while we figured out what to do. After lunch, we concluded that it was indeed too cold and windy for it to be very pleasant to be out on the water.

So we decided that instead we would check out the lighthouse on Point Reyes and fly a kite. Fortunately, there was a nice kite store nearby. I have always wondered how a shop like that can stay in business, but they were selling a bunch of kites when we got there. Probably due to the windy weather. I decided on a simple diamond-shaped kite, because I didn't want to be sitting around trying to figure out how to assemble a fancy box kite or something.

We drove over to the lighthouse, which was a windy drive with plenty of scenic views. The lighthouse was down a flight of 310 stairs, which wasn't too bad on the way down. It was pretty cool seeing this old lighthouse with its huge glass lens (see photos). After that, we headed back up the steps, which wasn't much fun. It was good to get a bit of exercise after the kayaking fell through, though.

After the lighthouse, we stopped by a beach nearby. There was a good bit of wind, but I had a bit of trouble getting the kite to take off at first. Eventually, I just started running down the beach, which seemed to do the trick. Once it got up about 30 feet, it started getting some clean wind that was able to keep it up there. Every so often I had to start running again though to keep it from dropping when the wind died down. I've always had a thing for kites, though I haven't flown them much.

Then we drove back to Paul's place, where we got showered and presentable. Since this was my last day here and the daylight was waning, Paul and I decided that we should pass clubs together at least once. He was the one I learned to pass with, so it's always cool whenever we get the chance to pass together. We were a little rusty, but with a bit of practice were able to do most of the tricks we used to be able to do.

After that, we headed over to an Indian place for dinner. The food wasn't great, but it was reasonably priced and there was plenty of it. Then we headed back to Paul's place to play some Mario Party with Lauren. I barely eeked out a victory when the 3-way star tie came down to the number of coins we each had. Luckily the bonus stars were in my favor today.

I have a long drive tomorrow, so I'd better get to bed.

Road Trip Day 22 - 2007-08-10

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today Paul took most of the day off, so we went out for lunch at this deli named Saul's. I had this hash with pastrami and other good stuff in it and some poached eggs on top. It was a bit salty, which is saying a lot since I love salt, but otherwise quite good. Paul got a fantastic looking sausage omelette and a bagel.

After that, we headed over to Iron Works climbing gym. It was a pretty good sized gym with a bunch of interesting routes. I did a 5.11c, 5.10a, 5.10c, 5.10a, 5.10a, and 5.10b. I think the ratings were a bit easier than some of the other gyms I've been to, or I'm getting better! Paul did quite well as well, getting up a 5-10a along with some other tricky stuff. They had an interesting method for doing the belay test: instead of having each of us belay the other, they had us pretend to belay on a rope they were pulling on. Seems like a good method to ensure you don't drop somebody on your test.

Then we headed back to Paul's place to shower and went out to eat at Zachary's. It is a pizza place that serves these ridiculous deep dish pizzas (see photo). It had to have been like an inch and a half deep. It was quite good though! We got pepperoni and sausage.

Next, we headed over to have drinks with one of Paul's friends whose birthday was today. We went to this nice micro brewery called Pyramid that had a whole bunch of interesting things to choose from.

Then we went over to somebody's apartment to meet up with Paul's girlfriend Lauren, who was in the middle of watching a Mad Max marathon. I caught most of the 2nd movie, but then we headed out.

Road Trip Day 21 - 2007-08-09

Check out the pictures I took today:

I slept in ridiculously late again today. After getting up, I headed over to Trader Joe's to re-stock on jerky. It is great road food, though I like to make sure that I actually stop for meals on the long legs of the trip. It feels like you are wasting time, but makes the drive much more pleasant.

After that, I headed over to Barnes and Noble to try to find the unabridged version of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Unfortunately, they only had an 'author-approved' abridged version. No good!

I had dinner with my cousin Will, his wife Melena, and his daughter Natalia. Will cooked up some abalone he had actually pryed off of the bottom of the ocean himself! They are protected, so you can only free-dive for them, no scuba tanks allowed. Each person can get 3 per day, and 24 per season that you can catch.

He prepared it by slicing it thinly, tenderizing it, breading it, and then pan frying it. It turned out very nicely! Melena made a nice salad, rice, and zuchinni to go along with it. This was the first homemade meal I had since leaving Justin's place in Fayetteville, so I was quite happy.

After chatting with Will and the family for a while, I headed back over to hang out with Paul.

Road Trip Day 20 - 2007-08-08

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today I went to the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens. I took a ton of pictures, so take a look! Most of it was outside with winding trails crisscrossing the whole area. It was subdivided into different regions like California, New World Desert, and so forth. I really liked how they had Strawberry Creek running through the whole area. There were lots of little waterfalls and a little Japanese water garden that they made. The pool of water was so clear that I thought it must have been a circulating pump system, but it was part of the creek. They did appear to have constructed pool, though.

I saw the much touted Corpse Flower, this giant tropical flower that blooms for a day once every three years and smells like a rotting corpse. Unfortunately, it had bloomed two days ago during the night, so nobody had seen it. They took photos that you can see here:

After that, I met up with my friend from high school in Phoenix, Chris, at Triple Rock in Berkeley. It was cool catching up with him and such. After eating, he walked me around the Berkeley campus, which I hadn't seen much of before. He's going to be moving up to Seattle in the next week or so, so it's a good thing I caught him before he left! We hadn't seen each other in about 10 years.

Next I headed over to where Paul was having his softball game, though the game was just ending as I walked up. They thoroughly trounced their opponents with a score like 27-12 or something equally severe.

After dropping the softball stuff off at Paul's lab, we headed for some sushi at Kirala. The sushi was good, though not exceptional. I was not impressed with their selection of rolls and the service was a bit slow. I had some nice warmed sake which was tasty. I think my favorite item was the rainbow roll, though the spicy tuna roll with a tempura asparagus stalk running through the center was tasty too.

On our drive back to his apartment, I got a hankering for some ice cream, so we went by this gelato place. I got half blueberry and half dark chocolate, both of which were exceptional. I haven't had gelato since Fayetteville with Steph and needed another fix.

Paul and I then headed back to his place to play some Wii with his girlfriend and roommate.

Road Trip Day 19 - 2007-08-07

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today I slept in, since Paul was working and I didn't really have any other plans. I got up around 1:00, had some breakfast, then just took it easy until Paul got back. For those of you concerned for my health, my eye was fine when I woke up. It must have been an irritation or allergic reaction of some sort.

Paul, Lauren (his girlfriend) and I went out to dinner at this hamburger place nearby. I got a bacon cheeseburger, as I usually do whenever possible. It was good, lots of bacon which was a nice touch. Sometimes they put so little on you barely notice it, but there was almost as much bacon as there was burger on this thing.

After eating, we met up with Paul and Lauren's friends Michael and Janel at this bar named Albatross. It was pretty cool, they had dart boards and board games and such. We had a few beers and played Apples to Apples. Here's how it works:

Players take turns being the "judge" the judge draws from a pile of cards with adjectives on it and shows it to everybody else. Everyone has 7 cards with nouns on it. They must choose which noun they think the judge will think goes best with the adjective. The cards are mixed so the judge doesn't know which card belongs to who, and they pick their favorite. The winner gets a point, and the next player in turn becomes the judge. It is pretty amusing!

Next, we played some darts. Janel taught us how to play a dart game called Killah: Each player throws a dart to determine which point is theirs. They need to hit this same point 3 times to become a "Killah", then they can kill other players by hitting their points an equal number of times to the number of times they've hit their own point. Michael kicked all our asses at this one, so we tried something else the next time.

Paul suggested we play Cricket, which I hadn't heard of before either. The points 15 through 20 are used for this game. Once you hit a point 3 times, each subsequent hit earns you that number of points, until your opponent has hit that point 3 times, at which time the point is considered closed. The game ends when all the points are closed. Paul and I played on a team against Lauren and Janel and narrowly achieved a victory.

Road Trip Day 18 - 2007-08-06

Check out the pictures I took today:

Today I got up at 7:30 so I could get a nice, early start on my long drive to San Francisco. Checking out was a huge hassle, because I had expected to recieve a discount to the room for playing poker, but it turns out the employee who had informed me of this was incorrect: MGM Poker Room play could not be used for a discount at NY NY (even though they are both owned by MGM-Mirage). After much running around from the NY NY Player's Club booth to the MGM Poker Room to the NY NY front desk, I finally got it worked out. They had made a mistake and were giving me a discount. It wasn't quite as large of a discount as I had been told, but after wasting an hour chasing it down I was happy to have anything to show for it.

At 9:15, I finally hit the road. The drive was pretty easy with nice weather and no traffic. I stopped at a small town named Tehachapi in California for some lunch. There was a nice little place named The Apple Shed where I had a turkey sandwich with bacon, apples, avocado, and lettuce on a toasted sourdough bread. It was quite tasty! I asked that they not toast the bread too much since I had burnt the roof of my mouth eating some lasagna the day before. Indeed, it was toasted to perfection and buttered, which softened it up a bit, though it made your hands greasy to eat it.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. There was some picturesque scenery on the drive, so check out the pictures. I like the rolling hills and such.

When I got to Paul's at around 7:00, we went out to a Thai place for dinner. We sat outside since the weather was nice and had some good food. Next, since Paul was driving his aunt's car which he has to return tomorrow, we went to get it washed. Unfortunately, the car wash was closed. We stopped by the Walgreens nearby to pick up some stuff, but I noticed I no longer had my credit card! Presumably, I had left it at the restaurant, so we headed back there. Found it!

Then, we headed back to Paul's place to play some Wii. Paul showed a natural aptitude for Tennis, though not so much on Baseball. Since he had to work tomorrow, he decided to head to sleep. He's staying over at his girlfriends place, and I'm staying at his place. Both he and his roommate have a cat, which appear to be of the variety to which I am allergic, so I've been sniffling and sneezing since I've been here. I'm going to pick up some Claritin tomorrow. For some reason, my left eye is all red, probably got some cat hair or dander in there. See the photos if you dare! If it isn't better by tomorrow I'm going to have to go to a doctor.

Road Trip Day 17 - 2007-08-05

Check out a few pictures I took today:

Well, as I mentioned before, the plan was to get 4 hours of sleep between 8:30AM and 12:30 PM. This plan actually worked pretty well, I was able to get up and be completely alert for the day, but I'm tired now as I type this at 11:20PM.

After waking up, I grabbed some food at this Italian place in the casino. I got the lasagna which was pretty tasty, though it was served way too hot. It really annoys me when a dish is still burning my mouth as I take the last few bites. Next, I then decided that there were two things that I still wanted to do besides play poker: ride the coaster at NY NY and check out the Bellagio fountains.

The coaster was pretty cool, they charge $11.50 to ride it, which is absurd. You can pay $25 for a day pass if you want, but I didn't really have much desire to do it over and over again. It was ok but not great, which is to be expected for a coaster in this setting. I wish they had seat pads, since the ride is bumpy and my butt is boney.

Next, I set off on my way to Bellagio, walking up the strip. I was a bit of a hike, but it was nice walking by some of the other casinos. When I got there, the wind had picked up quite a bit and they were playing an announcement saying that the show had been cancelled due to wind. I was not prepared to accept that I had wasted a 20 minute walk, so I decided to go into the Bellagio just to check it out and see what its legendary poker room looked like.

It took me asking somebody directions to find the poker room, but it was really nice. I couldn't resist, and decided to play some $4/$8, which is the lowest limit they spread. The competition at the Bellagio is supposed to be more challenging than elsewhere, due to the first-class reputation and facilities. Sure enough, it was challenging. I was down about $100 after a few hours. The table I was at was getting to be really aggressive and tight, so I decided to change tables.

The new table was much better, but I was still losing money. Eventually, I won a few hands and was actually up $30 at one point. Unfortunately, the good luck didn't last for long, I ended up down about $70. On my last hand, I lost about $30, which was unfortunate. Oh well! I had to go to back to my hotel and go to bed. So here it is, 11:45, and I'm going to bed now. Goodnight!

Road Trip Day 16 - 2007-08-04

Check out a few pictures I took today:

Today I tried to sleep in nice and late, so that I could play poker later. I achieved my goal and woke up around 1:00. I got a call from housekeeping asking if and when I'd like my room made up, and that struck me as somewhat odd. I have a do-not-disturb sign on my door, and they call me? What if I was sleeping? That doesn't make much sense.

When I headed into the lobby and passed a shoe shine booth, I decided to get my shoes shined, because they were looking scuffed and not at all shiny. The shoe-shine guy was nice, he told me about how he spent his time in the '60s traveling the country working for the civil rights movement, how his grandmother was a slave, and how he used to be a blackjack dealer back when there were no women or black folks dealing. He was a really nice guy and the shoes look great. They are almost too shiny! I'll bet that'll wear off after a while.

I got some "breakfast" at this P. F. Changs-ish place nearby, which was pretty tasty. Beef with asparagus! I am attempting to eat some vegetables at least. I wanted a decent meal since I knew I'd just be eating the crap they bring you at the poker tables for dinner. I came back up to the room, updated the blog, read a little more Small Stakes Hold' em, and then headed to the tables.

This was at about 4:00PM, and I ended up playing until about 8:00AM! It was quite a rough ride: I was down about $100 right off the bat, but gradually worked my way up to being about $140 in the black near the end. As the evening turned into morning, the table I was playing at broke up and we had to move to another table. People gradually left this table too until I was playing with just 4 other people. I don't play great shorthanded, but it was still fun.

Then I headed back to my room. The plan was to sleep for 4 hours to get a complete REM cycle in, then to hit the tables again for a few hours and go to bed earlyish. I had reported to maintenance that my toilette was only flushing every-other time. It was one of those fancy pressurized ones that sounds like a jet engine. When I got back to my room, I noticed that it looked different, and indeed, they had replaced the whole thing!

Road Trip Day 15 - 2007-08-03

Check out pictures from today here:

Today I tried to sleep in as much as possible so I could play nice and late, but I ended up waking up around 10:00. I grabbed a bagel at the food court downstairs and spent several hours reading through Small Stakes Hold 'em. I ran to Walgreens later in the afternoon, picked up Subway on the way back, and ate it in my room while reading more SSHE. Around 4:00, I got sick of reading and felt like I wanted to start playing again.

I went down to the MGM poker room and it looked pretty sparsely populated, so I decided to wander around the MGM Grand a bit. It is a huge place! I must've taken me 30 minutes to walk all the way around it. When I got back, I asked to be seated at the 2/4 table, but unfortunately the last seat had filled when I got there, so I got put on the wait list. I was on the waitlist for about 45 minutes before I got a seat.

The table was great when I sat down, lots of calling stations. One older woman to my right literally called with any 2 cards to see the flop, even calling several raises and so forth. I'm constantly amazed at how people can play like that and still not always lose their buy-in within the hour. I guess a lot of the time they do.

There were two really laggy (loose-aggressive) players seated to my left after about 11:00 who were annoying me. They kept posting live straddles (raising blind) and checking in the dark. The guy two to my left kept posting live straddles when I was in the blind, which caused me to have to tighten up in the blinds. I am pretty tight to begin with, so I look forward to the big blind so I can actually see a flop now and then, which was why it bothers me to have to keep folding there too.

My winnings kept climbing and falling, eventually I got up about $100, but about 30 minutes later I was back at 0! That was pretty frustrating, but a few hours later, at around 3:00AM, I got it back up to $100 and decided to quit. I couldn't resist the urge to cash out with 2 full racks of $1 chips and get two crisp Benjamins in return. Woo hoo! Hopefully tomorrow I'll do as well (or better!).

Road Trip Day 14 - 2007-08-02

Check out a map of my journey today here:,+AZ&daddr=S+Entrance+Rd+%4036.037910,+-112.121990+to:Las+Vegas,+NV&mrcr=1&mra=pi&sll=35.605395,-111.914405&sspn=1.382242,2.581787&ie=UTF8&ll=35.66644,-113.395535&spn=5.523595,10.327148&z=7&om=1

Check out pictures from today here:

This morning I left my hotel at 9:00 to head to the Grand Canyon. I hit a bit of construction-related delays that set me back about 30 minutes, but other than that the drive was fine. The Canyon was amazing, of course, so I took a bunch of pictures. Enjoy! (Because I'm sure you've never seen pictures of it before.)

After that, I headed out on my way to Vegas. I stopped at a nice diner called the Ranch House Cafe. It was a nice little diner out in the middle of nowhere in Ash Fork, AZ. I had a BBQ Beef sandwich, which was quite tasty.

I continued on my way and almost ran out of gas again. This GPS clearly doesn't have all the gas stations that exist, because it keeps telling me there isn't a gas station for 50 miles when there is one 5 miles ahead of me. That causes a great amount of undue distress.

Approaching Las Vegas, I went over the Hoover Dam. They are constructing a new bridge that is going to be pretty cool. I saw the supports that they have placed so far, and it is very impressive. (See pictures).

When I arrived where I was staying, New York New York, I was a bit confused. The appeared to have a taxi pickup area and a valet area, but no check-in area. I asked the valet where I should go to check in, and he told me the valet was complimentary. I didn't really want to valet anyways, because it would just motivate me to never access my car while I was there since I'd need to tip the guy who brought it to me and I was afraid I'd forget something in my car. I ended up letting him take it anyways, since it looked like that was what everybody else was doing and I didn't want to cause any trouble. Sure enough, I forgot my belt in my car so I'm going beltless! I'm not going to tip some fellow just to bring my car up here so I can get a belt out of my trunk.

After getting settled in my room, I went downstairs and signed up for the Player's Club to accumulate some comps while I play. I read somewhere that I could get $40 off my room if I played 5 or more hours of poker per day. Nice! So I grabbed a sandwich and sat down at a $2/$4 limit Hold' em table at around 7:00.

The table conditions varied pretty widely, but there was usually at least 2-3 people where were making tons of mistakes. I was up about $30 bucks at several points during the evening but managed to lose most of it near the end. My total profits: $1! Nice. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

Road Trip Day 13 - 2007-08-01

Check out a map of my journey today here:,+TX&daddr=Flagstaff,+AZ&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.901912,82.617188&ie=UTF8&ll=35.219885,-106.742285&spn=11.100283,20.654297&z=6&om=1

Check out pictures from today here:

After grabbing a Belgian waffle at La Quinta breakfast buffet, I hit the road at around 9:30. Nothing too interesting to report on the drive, other than it was quite long and dull. I was hoping to make it all the way to Vegas, but I decided to stop in Flagstaff, AZ instead for two reasons: I was sick of driving, and now I can take a bit of a detour tomorrow to check out the Grand Canyon.

I'll be visiting the south rim, which is where they constructed that glass platform you can walk out on. Sounds pretty neat!

I had dinner at the Beaver Creek Brewery, which was where I went a couple of times when I came to Flagstaff over the summer for music camp. A woman sat down next to me and we chatted for a bit. She was the one who informed me about the location of the glass platform and recommended the hotel I ended up staying in. Quite useful!

She also told me about how she lives out in the middle of nowhere with her husband, a retired Colorado river-rafting guide, and her chickens, which she raises for their eggs. Evidently, fresh eggs are delicious! She drives 40 miles into Flagstaff once a week to get groceries and such.

After I got to my hotel, I just sat around re-reading my favorite poker book, Hold' em Poker for Advanced Players by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, and Mason Malmuth. It is highly recommended, unless you plan on playing me at some point.

Tomorrow, I head for the Grand Canyon and Vegas!

Road Trip Day 12 - 2007-07-31

Check out a map of my journey today here:,+AR&daddr=Amarillo,+TX&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.901912,82.617188&ie=UTF8&ll=35.698495,-97.996665&spn=11.036641,20.654297&z=6&om=1

Check out pictures from today here:

This brings my time in Fayetteville to a close. Justin whipped up some good blueberry pancakes for Nikki and I. Then he played a bit with Blue on the table, which was adorable (see pictures). After saying our goodbyes, I hit the road.

Not too much to report on the drive, it was long and pretty dull. Yet again, though, the sky looked fantastic, so you can look forward to a bunch of sky-while-driving pictures. I saved the best for last, so hang in there!

I needed to stop for lunch and decided that I would try to go local rather than stop at some chain. I punched in "food" in my GPS and saw a place called Oscar's Sandwich House in Bristow, Oklahoma. Oscar's adjoined this Chinese place, which I assumed shared the parking lot that I pulled into, because the sign said "Restaurant Parking Only". As I walked away from my car, this belligerent Chinese woman berated me for parking where I shouldn't in broken English. Then she informed me that I was also not parked in a spot: I was parked on a handicap ramp. Now, that might seem like a really odd thing to do, but the ramp was maybe 4 inches high and 2 feet long. No yellow paint, no handicap sign, nothing! Just white lines on either side like a normal spot. I thought about telling her why it was confusing, but thought better of it.

I got a nice warmed turkey sandwich from Oscars. The person making my sandwich was quite nice. She asked if I'd be eating while driving and then informed me that she had packed my sandwich to make it easier to eat and give me plenty of napkins. Not bad!

I drove for a few more hours and was out in the middle of nowhere about 50 miles from Amarillo before I noticed that my tank was almost empty. I could probably get another 20-30 miles or so. I checked the GPS, and there were no gas stations listed on my route for another 50 miles! The closest ones were 20 miles away, but were perpendicular to the direction I was traveling. I did not want to go 45 minutes out of my way to get gas, so I just kept driving and hoped that the GPS was wrong. Sure enough, I found a Texaco about 10 miles down the road. I was sure sweating though! That would have been awful to get stuck in the middle of Texas during summer with no gas.

At around 6:30, I checked into my hotel: a La Quinta. It isn't bad at all, nice and clean with WiFi and such. I grabbed some Taco Bell for dinner because I didn't really feel like eating anything that would take too long. Since then, I've just been taking it easy and working on this blog! I hate it when I get behind like this.

Road Trip Day 11 - 2007-07-30

Check out pictures from today here:

Bonus day in Fayetteville! I was enjoying my time here so much, that I just couldn't leave. Justin had today off, so I decided to stick around and hang out with him. First, Justin, Nikki, and I had a nice breakfast of Cheerio's and bananas, prepared by yours truly. Next Justin and I went over to Theresa's house to help out with her lawn, which was quite overgrown.

Not just a little overgrown: it was about 2 feet high and quite thick! Justin went to work with the weedwhacker, while I used Theresa's internet connection to mail in my resume to BU. Theresa mentioned that her computer was acting odd because of some spyware, so I took a look at it for her. It had some software on it that was causing random popups to occur whenever you clicked a link! Quite annoying. I ran a full Adaware scan and went out to help Justin.

He made quite a bit of progress with the wheedwhacker, but there was still about 3/4 of it left to be done. He had switched over to using a mower. Unfortunately, the grass was so tall he had to tilt it up as high as it would go, and push it at that angle. Quite tiring! I worked a bit with the wheedwhacker and then we went in for lunch.

Theresa whipped up some homemade tuna salad, which Justin and I ate while watching some homestar runner. I must say, I'm not a huge fan. Some of it was pretty funny, but it seems like the same kinda odd humor that I don't like about Aquateen (not that I've watched much of that).

I checked the Adaware scan, and it found and removed some malware. I rebooted, but the problem was still happening! I started to run the same scan in safe mode, since maybe it had a mechanism which reinstalled it if you tried to remove it. Justin and I had to go though, so I never did see if it worked. I'm not very optimistic, but who knows?

Justin and I headed back to his house to check in on Nikki and the baby. Then we headed on to West Fork of the White River to swim. It looked like it was going to rain, but we were going to get wet anyways swimming, so who cares? It was nice, the water was decently warm, though the air was a bit too chilly for my taste. We skipped a bunch of stones. I think my technique has improved! The trick is getting a nice rock and then really throwing it fast with a bit of a snap to your wrist. We jumped off the bluffs once, and then just kinda drifted around in the rain. There was a bit of lightning, but it was way off in the distance.

We went back to Nikki and Justin's place to have dinner with some of Nikki's family. Before the family got here, Justin showed me how to whip up some delicious spring rolls! They turned out quite well, though we needed some work on our sauce.

Nikki's step-mother brought over some Dorito Casserole! It was quite tasty, thought it could have used some more Dorito's. After that, we went to help Steph move some more. Justin and I made two trips before we had to head home for bed. Justin did a ridiculous job of packing stuff into Steph's car. I had no idea we'd be able to fit that much stuff in there!

Road Trip Day 10 - 2007-07-29

Check out pictures from today here:

Justin cooked a great breakfast for Nikki, Steph, Theresa, and I this morning. We had fried eggs, sausage, toast, and smoothies! After that, Steph headed out to do some more packing and Nikki went with Theresa to do some shopping, so Justin and I went over to the creek at West Fork to go swimming. It was pretty busy there, but we found a good spot up the river a ways that wasn't as bad. There were bluffs running all along the river, which were great for climbing up and jumping off of. Sorry, no pictures since I didn't want my camera getting wet/stolen.

Justin challenged me to a stone skipping contest, which I failed at miserably. He beat me again in a rematch: clearly this is not my forte. I need to spend some more time practicing before I can compete at his level.

On our way back, we stopped by Hoghous, one of Justin's favorite bars in the area. We ordered some beers, and were fortunate enough to be served by a somewhat flamboyant waiter that Justin knew was particularly generous. Sure enough, he brought us some free shots that were his own concoction. They were pretty gross (coffee flavored beer plus amaretto or something), but you can't beat the price. Then Justin asked for him to suggest something affordable and tasty, so he whipped up some cocktail that he made up on the spot. I don't remember what was in it, other than some rasberry liquor, but it was pink and didn't taste bad at all. How much did it cost us in total? 5 bucks each (plus a generous tip)! I was quite impressed.

Next we headed over to Theresa's house to borrow her wok for this evening's meal and then we headed back over to Nikki and Justin's house. Justin proceeded to instruct me on how to prepare a great chinese stir fry dish with chicken and lots of vegetables. I don't really remember much of it, but I might be able to wing it if the need arises.

After we finished dinner, Justin and I picked up Steph on our way to the Boom Boom Room (what a name!) to play some air hockey. It turns out that I suck at air hockey. I beat Justin once, but he beat me once and Steph beat me twice. Steph and Justin were pretty evenly matched.

As I mentioned a few days ago, Justin has been teaching me to drive a standard transmission, so I've taken every chance I could get to drive his car whenever we're going anywhere together. I'm definitely getting the hang of it! I'm not stalling getting out of first anymore, and was able to back uphill out of his driveway and such without too much of a problem. Justin even showed me how you can coast around a turn in 2nd gear. Thanks Justin!

After air hockey, we played a bit of pool. We played a game of cutthroat followed by some 8-ball doubles against these really good folks who were hanging out at the bar. We held our own, to some degree. We even won the last game, but it was because they sunk the eight ball accidently. I need to practice more.

I should get going, since Justin is out weedwhacking Theresa's lawn by himself. I'm going to go help him.

Road Trip Day 9 - 2007-07-28

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Today Steph, Nikki, Justin, Nikki's mother Theresa, and I met up at Little Bread Company for breakfast. Steph and I split a very tasty cinnamon roll, we think it was the almond extract in the frosting that made it so good. After that, we all headed over to Steph's place to help her move. Theresa brought her minivan, which we used for the big pieces of furniture. After packing for a while, I was starting to get hungry. Eventually, I managed to persuade everyone that I needed food, so we headed out for lunch.

Justin wanted to go to this japanese place called Wasabi, but unfortunately it was closed for lunch. So, we went to Rice Village instead. I was walking ahead of the group to check to make sure the place was open, and carrying Nikki's baby-bag with me. When I walked in, after requesting a table for 5, one of the waiters looked at me and asked "what is that?". Clearly he thought I was carrying a purse of some sort. I told him it was for a baby, and he thought that was acceptable.

Much to Justin's dismay, the restaurant had recently lost thier liquor licence due to an oversight on the part of the management regarding when the renewal application was due. Furthermore, three of us ordered sushi that was supposed to have cucumber in it, but there was no cucumber! This was particularly unfortunate for Steph, who ordered something that just had shrimp and cucumber in it, so now it was just a rice and shrimp roll. On Justin's recommendation, I tried the seaweed salad, which was quite good.

After we refueled, we headed out to continue packing. We took several loads of stuff out to her new place before calling it quits for the day. Justin had to go to work for a few hours, so the rest of us just hung out. I did a bit of laundry while Nikki and Blue were taking a nap.

After Justin got off work, he cooked a fantastic meal for Nikki, Steph, and I. Marinated ribeye, homemade creamed corn, french fries, and green beans. I had never had homemade creamed corn before, but it was ridiculously good. The steak was also done to perfection and very flavorful.

After dinner, I got to hold the baby for the first time, which was really cute. (See photos) I got one great photo of Justin holding the baby with her looking right back at him and smiling. I haven't seen all the photos taken of her, but I bet this is among the best! We ate a bit of ice cream and then Steph and I went to watch another episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Road Trip Day 8 - 2007-07-27

Here's a map of my trip on day 8:,+TN&daddr=Fayetteville,+AR&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=42.901912,82.617188&ie=UTF8&z=8&om=1

Check out pictures from today here:

I headed out of Memphis this morning at around 9:30 for Fayetteville, Arkansas to visit my friend from Middlebury, Justin, his wife Nikki, and their new baby Blue. The drive was by far my shortest, around 5 hours, which was a nice change from the long trips I'd been doing before. I arrived around 3:30.

It was pretty easy to find Justin's house, because it still had a big sign that read It's A Girl! in front of it. It was great seeing Justin and Nikki for the first time since graduation (3 years). The baby, as expected, was absolutely adorable! I'll be sure to put up some pictures tomorrow, I didn't get any today.

After Justin gave me the tour, we headed out to Hoghous for some drinks and appetizers before he headed off to work at 7:00. We had some great spinach and artichoke dip and enjoyed the patio on Hoghous which overlooked the main street in Fayetteville.

After that, we still had a bit of time, so Justin decided that it was about time that I learned how to drive a stick. Fortunately, he is driving a car that it on its last legs anyways, so there was not quite as much pressure as learning on my Mom's new Mini, for example. We found a nice big parking lot and drove around for a good 20 minutes or so, practicing getting into first and shifting up through the gears.

Justin was a great teacher! He also suggested that I learn how to get the car into reverse without shaking the bejesus out of everybody in the car, which was quite worthwhile. After I had the basics relatively down, we took to the streets. Perhaps a little too soon, though! We were at what Justin says is the busiest intersection in town and I managed to stall the car twice during a left turn, blocking incoming traffic. It was somewhat harrowing, but a good experience. The weird thing: nobody honked! If you did that in Boston, you'd be hearing about it in about 1/100th of a second.

I finally managed to get it into gear and we pulled into a gas station. I practiced getting into first a few times, then we gave it another shot. This time went much better, and I managed to get back to Justin's neighborhood without further incident. There were some good hills to practice starting on near his house, so he had me practice starting uphill and starting in reverse uphill. I could definitely use some more practice, but I think I was getting the hang of it.

So we headed back to Justin's house and Justin headed out for work. Since Justin was working, he thought it would be fun to set me up with a good friend of Nikki's from school who they were both quite close to named Steph. We had a great night: we went to get some food at Pesto Cafe, had some mint chocolate chip gelato at a cute family-owned gelateria named Carpino's, and then watched a few episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Overall, a very enjoyable evening!

Road Trip Day 7 - 2007-07-26

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Today I slept in till 1:00 again. At least this time I had an excuse, since we stayed up till 4:00 last night. I met Jacob for lunch at Central BBQ, which was awesome. Though we got absolutely drenched in the rain though just walking 10 steps to our car, it was raining so hard. Luckily it cleared up later in the afternoon.

I came back to Jacob's place, put the buttons on the sweater, and steamed it into the correct shape. Photos tomorrow when I give it to Justin's baby! I hung out for a bit and played some Wii until Jacob got off work.

We decided to meet up with Lesley, a good friend of mine from high school, for dinner. We've stayed in touch, but haven't actually seen each other in something like 7 years, so it was cool to see her again. I also got to meet her boyfriend, Morgan, who I've heard quite a bit about.

We went out to dinner at Huey's, a family owned chain around the Memphis area. I got a Philly cheese steak, which was quite tasty. Customers there have a tradition of shooting tier toothpicks at the ceiling by using their straws as a blowgun. Quite eager not to fail at this task, I took a practice shot at my hand. That wasn't such a good idea, it didn't break the skin, but it hurt a bit. Morgan and I both got one to stick up there, which was quite satisfying. It will take all my restraint not to do this at every opportunity that presents itself.

Jacob and I returned to his place to play some Mario Party.

Road Trip Day 6 - 2007-07-25

Check out pictures from today here:

Since Jacob was working and I didn't have much else that needed to be done, I slept until 1:00 today. I wasn't quite planning to sleep that late, but that's just the way it worked out. It was probably for the best, considering that we stayed up till 4:00 tonight.

After waking up, I grabbed some KFC and headed out to Germantown in hopes that the Hobby Lobby there was in business. I found some nice blue buttons for the sweater, though it took me forever to find the right section. Even when I got to the right area, I ended up staring at this wall of clasps and other random stuff vainly searching for the buttons. After about 10 minutes of this, I finally noticed a big rotating button display right next to me.

When I got back to my car, it was quite hot, which tends to exacerbate this problem I've been having with the rear view mirror: there isn't much friction holding it in place, so it tilts down after every bump I go over. I had looked at fixing this before, but couldn't come up with a way to do so.

I had complained to Jacob about this earlier, and he pointed that there was a round rubber plug in the back of the mirror that probably covered up the screw. We were driving at the moment, so I didn't have a chance to fix it then. I took a look at it now and sure enough, there was a screw that did the trick. I am greatly relieved, you have no idea how annoying that is!

Next, I went by my old house on Lennox Cove, which was looking pretty much the same as it always did, except the trees were a bit bigger. It looked like our former neighbors, the Simonovsky's were selling tier house.

After that, I came back to Jacob's house to help him and the rest of the band get things packed up for the show tonight. I had forgotten how much of a pain it was to load all that stuff into cars. After we were done, we headed over to the Double Deuce on Beale Street for Jacob's CD release party.

The night went well, lots of good music and such. You should all definitely check out Jacob's new CD at

After we lugged all the equipment back to Jacob's house, we decided to grab some food at The Pancake Shop. That sure hit the spot after a long night!

Road Trip Day 5 - 2007-07-24

Here's a map of my journey on Day 5:,+NC&daddr=Memphis,+TN&sll=37.30364,-79.970215&sspn=5.408469,10.327148&ie=UTF8&ll=35.675147,-86.297607&spn=5.522979,10.327148&z=7&om=1

Check out pictures of today's trip here:

Today I made the drive from Asheville, NC to Memphis to meet up with Jacob. I woke up around 8:30, ate some breakfast with my grandmother, and then hit the road. The drive went ok, though it sprinkled now and then. It was quite a long drive, and I was eager for it to be over. I started an audio book version of The World is Flat, which kept me busy for most of the trip. It is a book about how globalization is changing everything. I'm not quite sure how they can stretch it out for 25 hours, but we'll see!

When I got to Memphis, it was about 5:40, so I decided to go by Hobby Lobby to pick up some buttons for the sweater I'm knitting, since Jacob wasn't out of work yet. I ended up driving about 20 minutes out of my way only to find out the store had gone out of business! That was delightful, I'll have to track some down later this week so I can finish up.

After I got to Jacob's I decided that I needed to fix my computer. When my computer isn't working, it leaves me in a state of distress. I had fiddled with it for about an hour and a half last night, running diagnostics and rebooting in a number of different ways. For some reason, it was booting successfully into safe mode, but if I tried to boot into safe mode with networking or normal mode, it would start to load windows but then only show the wallpaper. No icons, no toolbar, so I couldn't do anything!

I called Dell tech support from Jacob's house, but they were pretty useless. They had me run some diagnostics and then they decided that I needed to reinstall windows. Fat chance! I got to thinking that if I could track down an XP CD, I would be able to use the Repair option to fix the problem. Jacob said that we might be able to find one at his office, so we drove over there. No luck! Then he remembered that there was one at the Young Avenue Sound Studio, where he also works, so we went over there too. Jackpot! It took a little searching, but Jacob found it.

When I looked at the CD, I realized that I had XP Pro, and this CD was for XP Home. Either way, we decided to give it a shot. On our way back, we grabbed some burgers at Backyard Burger, which were quite tasty. That is definitely my favorite burger joint around (yes, even above In-and-Out Burger). I tried to use the CD, but unfortunately it didn't work. I figured as a last ditch effort, I would try disabling all the network devices in the Device Manager, because I knew the issue was network-related. Lo-and-behold, that did the trick! That was sure a relief.

I helped Jacob pack up some stuff for his CD release party tomorrow, and we played some Wii Sports. I have further confirmed that I kick ass at Wii Tennis, though my Bowling could use a little work.

Road Trip Day 4 - 2007-07-23

Here's a map of my journey on Day 4:,+VA&daddr=Asheville,+NC&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=49.844639,79.101563&ie=UTF8&z=7&om=1

Check out pictures of today's trip here:

Today I drove from Reston, VA where Rob lived over to Asheville, NC where my grandmother lives. The drive was pleasant enough for most of the trip, though I did hit some rain coming into North Carolina.

I had to fill up my tank, which gave me the opportunity to check out the fuel efficiency of the Infiniti I'm driving. It was 28 MPG on the highway, quite a bit better than the 18 MPG I'd get on my Jeep. I will be driving approximately 8000 miles, so assuming gas is around $3/gallon, this will save me $476 ($1333 vs $857). Not a bad deal!

I finished the audio book How to Win Friends and Influence People today. It was pretty good, and not as creepy as it sounds. Basically, it tells you to be nice and try to empathize with people's point of view. Here is a summary of the key points from this site ( For more details check out that site.

Building Personal Relationships
1) Never criticize, condemn or complain.
2) Become genuinely interested in other people.
3) Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
4) Be a good listener.
5) Make the other person feel important.
6) Use Names whenever possible.
7) Smile.

Selling your Ideas: Establish a Space for Cooperation
1) Avoid arguments: you can only lose.
2) Begin in a friendly way.
3) Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
4) Be sympathetic.
5) Respect others’ opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
6) If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
7) Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
8) Frame requests in terms of what others find motivating.

Selling your Ideas: Closing the Deal
1) Get the other person saying "yes, yes" as soon as possible.
2) Dramatize your ideas.
3) Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
4) Appeal to the nobler motives.
5) Throw down a challenge.

Leadership: Giving Criticism & Driving Improvement
1) Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2) Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
3) Call attention to people's errors indirectly.
4) Let the other person save face.
5) Make the fault seem easy to correct. Use encouragement.
6) Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement.
7) Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

Leadership: Motivating Others
1) Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
2) Try to make the other person happy about doing things you suggest.

Step by Step Guide to motivating others to do tasks:
1. Be Sincere. Don't promise what you can't do or deliver.
2. Know precisely what it is you want the other person to do.
3. Be Empathetic. Try to understand what others want.
4. Focus on any benefits the other person might receive.
5. Explain how those benefits match the other person's wants.
6. Frame requests to communicate that the other person will personally benefit.

I arrived at my grandmother's house around 4:30. We picked up some pizza and brought it back to the house to eat it. For those of you who haven't met her, she is not in the best health and even struggles to get a fork up to her mouth. It is impressive to watch her determination when she eats. I can tell where I get my persistence/stubbornness from!

We sat out on the porch after dinner where I showed her the sweater I'm working on for Justin's new baby, Blue. We talked for a while and then she got a bit sleepy, so she went to take a nap. I stayed out on the porch and continued working on the sweater until it was dark. I finished up the button border and most of the seaming, which is a real pain. It is difficult to see exactly which part of the stitch you need to stick your needle through to make the seam look nice. It seems to be turning out pretty well though, if I do say so myself!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of my grandmother today, but hopefully I'll get some tomorrow morning and post them in tomorrow's update.

(This post is a bit late due to computer problems: I couldn't get it to boot! See tomorrow for the exciting conclusion.)

Road Trip Day 3 - 2007-07-22

Check out pictures from today here:

I slept in a bit today again, getting up around 11:30. For lunch, Rob and I headed out to Potbelly's for some sandwiches. I had a meatball sandwich which was quite good.

We decided that it would be fun to go kayaking on the Potomac River, so off we went to Thomson Boat Club. Annoyingly, they had meters in the parking lot that were active on Sundays, and we had no quarters. We had to get some quarters from the cashier at the boat club, but she'd only give us a dollar's worth because 'they don't stock quarters for that'. Well, they should: that is absurd.

Also, they were out of kayaks, so we got a canoe instead. That was fine, except the seat was unpadded metal and I have an extremely bony butt. I kind of had to slouch over in a manner that allowed the more padded part of my posterior to cushion me, which was a bit uncomfortable.

Other than that, it was a beautiful day with nice big fluffy clouds floating by (see pictures) and a gentle breeze. First we paddled downstream to the Arlington Memorial Bridge, where we discovered why the boat club folks told us not to go past this bridge: that is where the no-wake zone ends and a bunch of motor boats are careening around the river. We decided to go no further to avoid being swamped.

After that, we crossed the river, paddled upstream and found a tributary that we could paddle up. There were some hostile looking geese on either side of the mouth of the tributary, but Rob the goose-whisperer managed to calm them down.

After that, we headed up to the Francis Scott Key Bridge, where Rob told me who the hell Francis Scott Key was: he evidently wrote our national anthem. There were a ton of boats anchored upstream of this bridge. We heard what sounded like a waterfall, so we went to go explore that, but it was pretty disappointing. It was extremely stinky, so perhaps it was some sort of pollution being dumped into the river or something.

Tired, we paddled back to the boat club where we headed back to the car. Fortunately, even though the evil boat club people would only give us enough quarters for an hour and twenty minunutes, we didn't get a ticket in the three hours we were parked there.

It is at this point that Rob discovered that his phone was showing some signs of moisture damage (some fogging on the screen and odd behavior). We have no idea how it got wet, since it was in a plastic bag the whole time. Either way, we needed to get him a new phone so we went by Verizon and used his new-every-two plan to get him an LG VX8300 for free. Not a bad deal for a nice looking new phone.

We headed back to Rob's place and played some Wii Tennis. Next, we went out to dinner at Carrabba's Italian Grill, which was tasty. I had a Caesar salad and the chicken parmesan, both of which were quite good. After that, we went home and played a bit more Wii Tennis and a game of Mario Party 8. Good times!

That brings me to the end of my time here with Rob. In the morning I will head out to see my grandmother in Asheville, NC!

Road Trip Day 2 - 2007-07-21

Check out pictures from today here:

Rob and I had a good day today, we got to sleep in pretty late (11ish) and then went over to Chipotle in Arlington to have some lunch with his friends Mike and Brad. It was quite tasty, though I must admit that it isn't quite as good as Anna's Taqueria. I got a burrito, which was tasty.

Next, we went over to Upton Hill Park to play some mini-golf. Brad played a consistently good game to pull out the win. I had a rocky start at the beginning but got 3 hole-in-one's in the back 9 for a solid 2nd. It was a good course, the type with rolling green, water traps, rocks, and such. None of those big windmills or dinosaurs which makes for a somewhat more pure game.

As we were walking away from the mini golf-place, I spotted a Dippin' Dots sign. I love Dippin' Dots! Rob, Brad, and I got some, but Mike wasn't too interested at first. After my explanation of how the manufacturing process makes for particularly creamy and rich taste, he decided he had to get some too. Yes, I am a big Dippin' Dots fan.

Rested up, we hit the batting cages. We tried medium-speed baseball, which was somewhat unsatisfying because I only got one really solid hit after 16 pitches. Slow-pitch softball was a bit more our speed: it is quite satisfying to be able to really smack it. Mike observed that slow-pitch softball was probably the only type of baseball we would be playing at this point in our lives, so it is probably the best thing for us to be practicing anyways.

Brad had to head out, but the rest of us went back to Rob's place for some chinese food from Pei Wei and some Wii. We played 2 games of Mario Party 8, I won one and Mike won one, much to Rob's dismay. He wanted me to mention his frustration by the fact that I am consistently kicking his ass at everything on the Wii.

Overall a good day, lots of games and stuff which is always fun. Also, I just got word from Justin Berenguel that he and his wife are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl! Check out Justin's facebook page for some adorable pictures. I can't wait to meet her next weekend!

Road Trip Day 1 - 2007-07-20

Here's a map of my journey on Day 1:,+prides+crossing,+ma&daddr=30+Tilquist+Rd,+Oxford,+Connecticut+06478+to:11+River+Rd,+Wilton,+CT+06897+to:Reston,+VA&mrcr=1,2&mra=ps&sll=41.422134,-72.053833&sspn=11.16625,19.182129&ie=UTF8&z=6&om=1

Check out pictures of today's trip here:

It was a bit rainy when I left (7:00AM), but it cleared up after an hour or so. My first stop (9:45AM) was to visit my former co-worker, Joe, and his wife Beth to see thier new baby. It was adorable! I held her for a little while and she stretched and wiggled around in my arms, which was really cute. I haven't seen a baby that young in a while (<2 weeks old) and had forgotten how tiny they are! I talked to Joe a bit about my plans, and he suggested that I check out Zion national park if I am near it in my travels.

Second stop (11:45AM) was to see folks at Cannondale: it was Rob Osher's birthday and I wanted to kill some time before I continued on to Rob Hoxies's apartment near DC, so he'd be off work when I arrived. (Little did I realize how long it was going to take me to get there!) Anyways, it was great seeing everybody again and having one last chicken crust club sandwich from Tom-e-toes.

After Cannondale (1:30PM), I tried to make my way down to visit Rob near Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I hit a ton of traffic approaching the George Washington Bridge. You'd think I would know better than to try to take that route after living in the area for 3 years, but oh well! It was particularly frustrating because I knew that after whatever time I spent in traffic, I had another 4 hour drive in front of me. Luckily I had an audio version of How to Win Friends and Influence People to keep me occupied.

After 3 hours, I finally got through the traffic. I took the NJ Turnpike south, and when I finally got near my destination (about 1 hour away) it was around 9:00. I was in Maryland on Route 895 in the lefthand lane, and noticed that the person in front of me was braking hard, so I did the same. I noticed that there was a cop by the side of the road. After I went by, he pulled out, came up behind me, and put his lights on, Great! I pulled over to the side of the road and waited (10 minutes!) for him to get out of his car and come talk to me. He said he clocked me at 82 in a 65 zone and asked for my license and registration. Very business-like, none of that 'do you know how fast you were going?' stuff, which gave me little opportunity to try to get out of it. After another 10 minutes, he comes back to my car with a $165 ticket. Hopefully that is the last of them for this trip, but we'll see. What bothers me the most is that this will probably scare me into driving slowly, which will be annoying.

I finally arrived at Rob's at 10:00, we went out to an irish pub nearby that was still serving food, had a few drinks, and then we went back to his place and played some Wii. Overall a pretty good day, aside from the traffic and the tickets.