For Kelly's first 29th birthday she rented the upper floor of the Patterson Bowling Center which features Duckpin bowling. She has since rented the same place for her birthday party every year. This year was her 4th Annual 29th party. She invites 50+ people to try and pack the house. We ordered a custom cake from Costco with it decorated showing 4th 29th, however Costco lost the cake and couldn't find it when we tried to pick it up. We had to go with a standard cake. Over 30 people showed up on February 9th. Everyone brought food and drinks and as usual we had a bunch of extras. Some pictures of the night are available at this link. One sample picture showing the fun being had that night is below.
Recently in Friends Category
Yesterday was a year since Kelly and I first went on a date. While we had been emailing online for a little over a week previously it was the first time we met. Even though she left our date to go on another later date that day I don't hold it against her.
As a celebration we went up to Philadelphia again to go to Franklin Institute as we did on our first trip together in mid-April last year. This time we were going to see the King Tut traveling exhibit. We left after Kelly got back from work on Saturday. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed over to the Franklin Institute. It was a little chilly of a walk but not too bad, even though the pathfinder walked us in circles a bit. We entered the exhibit about 8:15 PM and walked around and saw it until almost 10. It was pretty crowded. It was an interesting exhibit, especially seeing how well preserved the 3300 year old items were. There were some things not there that would have been nice to see like the main coffin. Some of the craftsmanship on small items was amazing.
The next morning we had room service and almost breakfast in bed. After checking out we walked over to the Liberty Bell. It was snowing on and off and sustained winds in 10-20 MPH range. It was quite chilly. We went and saw the visitor center, the liberty bell and took the Independence Hall tour. I learned that the President and Vice President can't be from the same state, never knew that.
After that we walked over to the Italian Market. Since it was a Sunday many things weren't open at all or were open very limited hours. We ate at Geno's Steaks which is one of two famous cheese steak places on the same corner. Even with the cold weather it was quite busy. You have to sit outside which made for a quick meal. We walked pack to the hotel, while stopping at Starbuck's to warm up a bit.
Other than being cold it was a very enjoyable weekend. Maybe next time we can do it when it is a bit warmer.
On Thursday I went up to Atlantic City with Roger and MP. We stayed at the Borgata which is the highest end casino in AC. This casino is almost up to Vegas standards. The only problem is as soon as you leave it you are still in AC.
The main reason we were up there was that Roger and MP both entered the Junkies Poker Tournament. The tournament had about 430 entrants and had a $300 buy in. The event was held in the Borgata poker room. The room is quite large and could easy hold a tournament of 2-3 times the size. Roger and MP lasted for about 2-2.5 hours and probably through the first 50-75 players. They didn't get too many good hands and were slowly whittled down.
For me it was weird being in a casino and not gambling. Just don't have the funds right now to be blowing them on cards or slots. Maybe some day in the future I can partake again. It is both and good and bad to see that the Borgata is so nice and so close.
In August of this year Roger asked me what I was going to do for my 30th birthday. At the time I wasn't sure, August is always my busiest time of year. After much discussion he offered to have something at his house. This works better than my place since most of my friends live a lot closer to him than me. We decided to have it on the Sunday of labor day weekend. I figured people would be available that day due to 3 day weekend. The night before was to be the fantasy football draft, that way people had another reason to be in town.
I came up with the idea to have an outdoor movie, since we hadn't done that in a long time. We decided to have a low key BBQ as well. Roger even sent out an e-vite to get an idea of who could make it. Quite a few people did make it; Greg, Travis, Josh (short stop in country), Tommy, Matt, Colleen, Kevin (and his new girlfriend), Jerry, Karri and of course Kelly.
Kelly and I got to Roger's place around 1:30 on Sunday. First we unloaded all the left over beer from the rehearsal dinner at the wedding. Then we went to Safeway to get supplies with Roger. We got some ground beef, hot dogs, chicken, beans, chips and ingredients for Kelly's homemade mac and cheese. Roger and I played some games while Kelly made her mac and cheese.
First to show up was Greg and others started coming between 3-5. Around 5 PM Roger started up the grill. I was elected grill master, which I did um ok at. Luckily no one seemed to get sick from the food and it wasn't all burned. Everyone seemed to be happy with it, even Josh the reformed vegetarian.
After dinner Kelly brought out my cake with all the candles on it. She started and others joined in singing happy birthday. We had her layer cake and some ice cream, it was really good cake. After dessert I started getting the movie setup. I hung the screen from the house with some help. Got out the step stool and setup the projector, laptop and speakers.
Everything seemed to work well. I brought an Epson 765c from work along with a Toshiba Protege M400. I got a new set of speakers for the occasion since I had wanted some. I got the Boomtube H2O1 and it really worked well. It is a nice looking, loud, compact and battery powered speaker set. If you want one check around for pricing, the list of $250 is almost $100 more than I found it for.
We first watched Tommy's fight that a bunch of people went to. After that we watched the main attraction of the night Gone in 60 Seconds. I couldn't find my original copy of the film so I had gone out and gotten the newer director's cut edition. The original wasn't even anamorphic so it wasn't a big loss. There was actually some noticeable changes to the movie in this edition. This was a good movie for a drive-in back yard movie experience. Lots of action and car chases, true summer popcorn flick.
After the movie as I was breaking down the setup everyone left pretty quick. Due to the amount of drinking the night before at the FF draft many didn't seem up for another night of it. By the time I left no one was still there other than Jerry and Karri who were on their way out and Greg who was staying to wait for Camille to arrive.
Thanks to all that came and enjoyed the night with me. Travis, Kevin and Roger were even well behaved. Since all three weren't drunk they couldn't feed off each other.
One of the other things I did with my free time on Saturday and Sunday during the wedding weekend was talking to Kelly's step father Dan's father. I know that is a confusing relationship line, but I couldn't think of any other way to say it. He is a very interesting gentleman who is around 80, I think. He is still actively working and has spent a great deal of time in the oil industry both in the US as well as previously in Canada.
One of the subjects we talked about was the company he worked for and was something along the lines of partial owner or partner in. He worked with this oil company in Canada in the 70's (if not much longer). We talked about what happened in Canada in 1973-74 when OPEC decided to change the world oil price from $2.50 a barrel to $10.00 overnight. This is known as the oil crisis basically. At this time Canada was self sufficient for oil and were exporting it to the other parts of the world. To protect the price of oil inside Canada the government capped the price in the country and slapped a $7.50 export tax on the oil. I think the reasoning and result of this is debatable. However I got to hear it from an insiders perspective. From his perspective the taxation instantly killed the oil industry in Canada. Suddenly his company went from making a profit of ~10% a barrel to losing ~25% a barrel. Needless to say he gave up on that venture and the company had issues.
Just before the oil crisis he had been preparing to go to China as an official representative of the Canadian government. He spent 2 years learning Chinese and getting ready to go. Once the crisis occurred and his profits vanished he went in and told the government in colorful language to take the job and shove it.
He later moved to Austin to start over again in the oil business in US. He continues to work in the oil industry to this day. He mentioned his worries about some of the ideas bouncing around in congress about taxing the "extreme" profits. He seemed to think that this could have a huge negative effect on the oil industry in the US. I am sure there are many that will disagree with his view, however it is a discussion worth having especially considering his historic knowledge in the area.
One other really cool story he told me was about a former next door neighbor of his. This neighbor used to come to Austin every year to join up with friends and go to superbowl. Apparently on one of these trips he was at dinner one night and was approached by a young man. The young man showed him a computer he was working on and wanted to begin selling. The neighbor asked him what he needed to begin the business and the young man said he needed some capital and hoped to find investors. The neighbor asked him how much he needed and wrote him a check on the spot. Fast forward many years later. The neighbor had passed away but his wife stilled lived next door. One day she came over and asked for help sorting out some paperwork. She brought over a box full of letters that she kept getting from Dell and other older paperwork. It seems that the neighbor was one of, if not the, original investors in Dell. The box was full of stock certificates, dividends and other related documents. Once they went through the box it was determined that there was something on the order of low 8 figures worth of stock. It was quite an amazing story.
Hopefully someday I will get to have some more chats.
Kelly's brother Nicholas and his fiance Aviva got married in Cape May, NJ on August 20th. The weekend really began on Thursday night with the arrival of Kelly's parents from Seattle. We all went out to dinner that night. It was the first time I had met Kelly's parents. It was cool, especially getting to see Kelly and her mom interact.
Friday morning Kelly and her parents headed up to Cape May, NJ first. I left about 3 PM to head up. The drive up wasn't too bad not much traffic at all, took me about 3 hours after stopping at my place. I arrived at The Manse at about 7 PM. It is a bed and breakfast that we were staying at for the weekend. The members of the wedding party that are related to bride and groom (and their guests) were staying at this location.
It is an interesting place, I had never stayed in a B&B before so it may be similar to others. For me it was a little creepy staying in someone else's house with all their pictures and such. There are 8 rooms and Kelly and I were in room 8. Some rooms had their own bathrooms, others like ours had to share. There wasn't AC in the house, but there was room units in each room. Our room was also special in that it was the emergency exit room. As a result we had no lock on our door, a light outside the window shining in and a glowing exit sign.
After cleaning up Kelly and I headed over to the rented house that all the rest of the wedding party was staying at. I got to meet all of the other people in the wedding at the dinner. Most were from the east coast (DC-NY) and a few from the Seattle-Tacoma area. They ordered in Mediterranean food. After dinner we all walked to the city center to get ice cream.
The next morning we experienced the breakfast part of the place we were staying. The owners of the place made a silly amount of food. Fresh muffins, peaches and creme, ham, eggs and several other things I can't remember now. The rest of the day Saturday my schedule was pretty free. Kelly had to go to various brides maid related occasions. I spent it relaxing, playing on the computer (they had wi-fi) and reading. I also went to find a shirt for the rehearsal dinner since I forgot to bring one. I found the only store in all of Cape May that sold men's clothing. The majority of what they stocked was Tommy Bahama which is nice but really expensive, I found a shirt about half the price. It is quite nice, if not my usual style.
Walking around Cape May was an interesting experience. It seems pretty much no one actually lives there. The town is full of B&B's, rental houses and small hotels. Someone said the town has one of the highest population swings from on and off season. Another oddity for me was the fact that you had to pay to go on the beach there. I am used to places like VA Beach that have beautiful free public beaches.
The rehearsal dinner was on Saturday night. It was held at a mansion that had a 50's museum in it as well. The dinner was quite a bit larger than usual, like 80 people. Basically anyone that was in town and related to the families was invited. It started with a raw bar, fruit, cheese and various hours devours. The main meal was a buffet style. They had a bunch of tasty choices. For dessert there was an ice cream social. Everyone in town that wasn't invited to dinner was invited to the ice cream social. There was about 150 people there I think.
Sunday we got up and had another massive breakfast. This time it was homemade blueberry pancakes. Kelly didn't get to have any since she had to begin the preparations for the wedding, she wasn't thrilled about that. I again was free for the early part of the day so I just hung out and relaxed.
I left for the wedding a little after 2 PM. There was a trolley to take people, but I drove myself so I could leave when I wanted. Everyone started to arrive around 2:30-2:45. It was an outdoor wedding in a vineyard. They had setup lots of lawn umbrellas and were handing out water, lemonade and iced tea. It was about 90 degrees and very high humidity as well. Needless to say it was quite hot, people were trying there best to stay cool by removing jackets and staying in shade. It could only do so much though.
The wedding was scheduled to start at 3 PM, but didn't get going until about 3:15. This was the first Jewish wedding I had ever been to. Many things are similar in the traditional wedding sense. A good portion of the ceremony was done in Hebrew and then repeated at least in part in English. It wasn't a very long ceremony which is always good, especially in the heat.
After the ceremony everyone adjourned to the garden right next to the chairs for more drinks and hours devours. There was a large selection of snacks both on tables ready to go and being circulated by the wait staff. The mingling went on for about an hour or so. Afterwards people started to move to the tent for the next part of the evening. It was a large tent to seat the 300+ people and had a dance floor and a live band.
The action in the tent started with speeches and dancing. Then there was a traditional Jewish dance with groups in a large circle. It ended with Nick and Aviva being hoisted up on chairs and carried around. Later there was a ceremony with a Rabbi cutting a loaf of bread and the bride and groom eating it. There were several other special dances that happened during the evening.
Dinner began with salad and rolls. One of the things with a wedding of this size is it took quite a while for the wait staff to server the entire tent with each course. Due to this people who got fed first were done and ready to get up and moving before the last people even got their meals. People were mingling throughout the night. One of the options for the main course was Alaskan King Salmon. All of which was caught by Kelly's parents. They have a boat and a commercial fishing license in Sitka, AK. Neither Kelly or I are big seafood fans so we got the beef entree. Almost everyone else had the salmon though.
After cutting the cake they began to bring around the primary dessert that was like a mini apple pie. It was very good. I wasn't sure if or when they would be bringing the real cake. It was already getting late so Kelly walked me to my car. I left a little after 8 PM and started home. I had to stop for gas (full service required in NJ) and cash to pay tolls on the way home.
Traffic on the way home wasn't too bad most of the way. When I got the Delaware / Maryland border though I came to a screeching halt. The toll booth leaving DE was backed up for miles. It took me at least an hour to go a few miles. As a result it took me over 4 hours to get home and I finally go to bed about 12:30.
Kelly and her parent's stayed in the rented house until Friday. She had a tough week of laying on the beach and reading. A couple of friends came to spend time since I couldn't take time off from work. When she came back her parents and I went out to dinner before they flew out Saturday morning.
This year I received an invitation to this years Pig Bastard roast. This party is put on by my co-worker Julie and her boyfriend at their house. The main attraction is a 225 lb whole big that is smoked overnight for the party. To go along with it two large turkeys are also smoked. The smoker that is used is the size of the bed of a pickup truck, huge. I wanted to share some of the features of the house and party that I think my past roommates and other friends would be impressed by.
When I first got there I was greeted by the two dogs. One of the dogs is a fairly normal large dog that I can't remember the breed of. The other dog is the size of a pony and is still growing. It is an Irish Wolfhound. This dog would tackle anyone easily that isn't about my size and could probably tackle me if it wanted to. When seated and eating it looks face to face with me, it is truly huge.
Julie gave me and Phyllis a tour of the house. Inside there was a room for the dogs. There is a double bed that the Wolfhound uses as his bed, not sure if he shares with the other dog. There is also a crate for the Wolfhound. The crate is 5 ft tall and is the size of a closet. This crate is probably bigger than jail cells that some people live in.
We then went down to the basement. They are working on the basement in stages. So far they have a home built bar on wood flooring done. Julie's boyfriend is 6' 4" and he built the bar for people of that size. The rail is at chest height for me and chin height for some of the women there. Also the depth of the bar is such that I can barely reach from the front to back. It is quite a sight to see. The bar has a working tap built into the wall that leads to the workroom next door. There is a keg in the next room in a fridge. The bar was the most stocked bar I have ever seen in a house, more with variety than quantity. The next closest one I have seen is Matt's and this was probably 50% more. There were also several types and brands I had never seen, which was surprising for me. The keg down here was the first of 5 for the party.
We then walked around the backyard a bit. The deck has a built in hot tub. There is another bar and gate to separate the hot tub from the rest of the deck and to keep the dogs out. The deck also had the customary corona bottle opener mounted. Sitting on the ground near the back door were two untapped kegs. Next to the smoker was the dual keg setup. There were two keg tubs with ice in them. They had tubes leading to a modified cooler. Inside the cooler it cooled the beer right before it came out the tap. The front had two real taps with official identifying tips on them. The kegs were also fed by CO2 tanks so there was no need for pumping. Also hanging in the tree behind the kegs were two beer bongs.
Next was the entertainment part of the yard. There was a volleyball net that had lines spray painted on ground. There was a pair of nice horseshoe bits. They had the U shaped wood outline and were filled with sand. Caddy corner to the net and pits was a large fire pit with a dozen log benches and stump chairs. The back of the yard was lined with logs from the trees that were chopped down in the yard and ready to be split.
The final part of the yard was the beer pong tables. Yes multiple you heard me right multiple tables, four to be exact. Each one was prepped with pong balls and rising Tupperware tubs. When I arrived about 2:30 they already had one game of team beer pong going and appeared to be several games in. The other surprising thing for me was that they used 10 cups instead of the 6 I am used to seeing. They also seemed to do some of sorting/stacking of cups as the game went on that the players I know frown upon. I am not sure whether this group of players could keep up with my friends in the marathon pace they set but it would be an interesting challenge.
I left about 4 PM as I had other things to attend to, but I am sure this party would be interesting site to see. Just like many of the parties held at the house of the damned in which I used to reside. Maybe someday I can arrange a meeting between this new beer pong group and the one I know so well.
Update: Two things I forgot to mention. They also had custom made cups for the party. They were Hokie House size and shape cups with their party name and logo on them. The cups also glow in the dark. The second thing was the Jell-O shooters they had. They had 550 Jell-O shooters they made. They bought these things that looked like mini test tubes that had caps. Brian also had several ammo belts that fit the shooters. He came out with two across the chest and one around the waste, each one filled with about 20-30 shooters a piece. It was quite and impressive Jell-O shooter setup.
Update 2: Driving backwards on a bridge is dumb. Throwing a hatchet to someone else is dumber.
For almost six months Karri and I had been attempting to find a weekend that she and Jerry could come up and visit and go to the National Aquarium. We finally found a weekend that nothing was going on and we were all in town. Unfortunately I decided to get sick that weekend. I was hoping to recover enough to go downtown so I didn't cancel. Also we had tickets that were for a specific date and time and I didn't want them to go to waste.
Well I didn't improve at all by the time they arrived on Saturday morning. As a result Kelly went with them to downtown. When they arrived downtown they attempted to redeem the tickets Jerry and Karri had to get into the Aquarium. Due to crowds they couldn't get the same time and access that the tickets Kelly got had. Kelly was nice enough to give them our tickets so they could get in and see everything. She then entered later and joined them to see the rest of the Aquarium.
They returned to the house around 4 PM. I was asleep or close to it. Kelly went out to get BBQ from a local Pit Beef place. She got a family meal that was HUGE. We barely ate any of it. If I had been healthy I could have eaten it all week, but I didn't get to enjoy any of it until Tuesday night.
After dinner we went down to basement to watch a movie. Karri and Kelly being far more picky than Jerry and I attempted to settle on a movie. We watched The Weather Man, I will discuss it in more detail later. Afterwards I was pretty wiped and went to bed. Jerry and Karri stayed downstairs and enjoyed the basement a while longer.
Karri had seen the basement previously during the fantasy football banquet in the early spring. Jerry hadn't visited my house yet though. He seemed to like the basement, even though I didn't get to spend much time showing him all the features. Hopefully he can come back some day so I can show him some more stuff.
Sunday Kelly and I got up fairly early. We sat around for a bit and waited for Jerry and Karri to get up. Once they got up Kelly made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Kelly had to leave to go raspberry picking in the early afternoon. Jerry and Karri left shortly thereafter.
It wasn't even close to the weekend I had hoped for their first visit. Thanks to Kelly it wasn't a total disaster. Maybe sometime they can come back up and we can hang out some more in my humble abode.
Last weekend Kelly and I went to Pennsylvania to attend Dan and Heather's wedding. I picked her up from work on Saturday evening. We planned to head directly out of town but we looked at my iPod and the book we wanted to listen seemed to be missing. We stopped at my house to attempt to fix that. It later turned out to be just iPod not showing it in the right place. We then started the trek to my parent's house where would spend the night. When we were a bit over half way there I realized I had forgotten my parent's house key. This is a really big issue since they were in Wisconsin or on the way there. I called information and got my Aunt's phone number. Luckily she had a key to my parent's house. We stopped by there on the way and picked it up.
We got up Sunday morning to get ready for the wedding. I had to go and get Kelly some essentials, Starbucks and hair gel. The gel was a little more difficult since I don't often buy it. We left the house a little later than we had planned but not too bad. On the way up it rained on and off, this was not a good sign since the wedding was supposed to be outside. We got to The Riverside Inn at 2:55 PM for a 3 PM wedding.
We saw the original setup out side that wasn't being used. We walked in and found the new location. We were seated by Travis in the next to last row in the hallway leading to the room with the ceremony. Very shortly after we were seated the groom and his party filed in with the priest then from the opposite side the bride and her party came in. The ceremony was quick, probably less than 15 minutes which was great. The shorter the ceremony is the better. After the ceremony everyone moved over to the reception area. As we went in there was a receiving line. After the line they had a couple of people taking Polaroid’s. The Polaroid’s were then put into a scrap book and people signed the book.
There was an open bar before and after dinner which most people took advantage of. Dinner was very good, a good selection of entree choices. Also the cake was very delicious. There were very few cheesy wedding things done in the reception. The only ones were really the tossing of bouquet and garter. The DJ's were ok, but had some questionable music choices. The table I was seated with was cool, even Kelly seemed to enjoy Roger, Travis, Kevin and Jim. We left the reception about 8 PM since we had to drive back to my parent's house.
Monday we got up and I did my chores that my dad left for me. We started directly back toward my place. I had hoped that we would find a Starbucks in Murrysville on the way toward the turnpike. We didn't however; it ended up taking almost an hour to find a Starbucks on the turnpike. Needless to say Kelly the caffeine junkie was not happy with this. She ended up getting an iced latte as well as a frappuccino to get her caffeine level high and continue her buzz.
We got back to my place about 3 PM. Along the way Roger and Travis managed to pass us and actually beat us home by a few minutes. They came over for a BBQ and some movies. We first went out to get some food and drinks. We got some steaks, beer, corn on the cob, fries, potatoes and chicken strips. We made everything but the strips for dinner. After dinner we watched Independence Day, it was the Special Edition which actually isn't available any longer. We noticed a few scenes that were added or extended. They weren't noticeable due to quality which was good. I hadn't watched the movie in a while and it is a great summer action flick even ten years later now.
After ID4 we had some discussion as to what to watch, with all of us offering options and refining them. We finally settled on BettleJuice. I hadn't seen the movie in really a long time. It is one of my favorites and has the trio of Tim Burton directing, Danny Elfman music and Michael Keaton starring. One thing I immediately noticed about the DVD was just how bad the video quality was. This DVD was one of the first DVD's released early in the DVD format's life. It is one of the original Warner Bros DVD that came in a snapper case and was single layer double sided. One side had a widescreen anamorphic picture and the other was full screen. The combination of a questionable transfer and an early encoding combined to make the picture noticeably bad on my big screen. I still really enjoyed the movie but I just hadn't considered the quality on the early movies such as this.
On the 4th we were planning on going to the Baltimore Symphony at Oregon Ridge. We headed out toward Hunt Valley and it was potentially going to be rained out. It was raining a bit while we ran some errands. We headed over to Wegmans to get something to eat while at the show. While their Kelly's friends called and said the performance was cancelled. Apparently there was a power outage at the park and the show couldn't happen. We just went home and ordered a pizza instead. We then watched Garden State.
I didn't attend any of the Vegas Vacations in 2005 due to trying to save for and afford a house and then the basement in it. One might question if I could afford this trip due to continuing to pay off the basement. That is all beside the point. This year the original idea for the trip was a potential bachelor party for Dan and his pending wedding. However as is often the case with Vegas trips, many dropped out from original plan. It ended up being Roger (the planner), Jim (I can drink again), Greg (Uh oh I guess I should wakeup to see what I won) and me (I lost what how fast). Later in the trip Mandy and Mike showed up and stayed after we left. We left DC on 6/23 and returned on 6/26.
The primary purpose for me to go to Vegas is gambling. Every time I go I say I will see some shows, well that hasn't happened yet. I still would like to see some shows like Blue Man and Penn and Teller. In recent trips my bankroll to lose had been larger. This time I shrank it a bit, since it really is how much I am able to afford to lose. Losing is what I did and fast. In past trips I would play blackjack primarily and be able to have some ups and downs to allow me to play for a long time. I tried three card poker this time however and didn't have a similar experience. Instead I lost and lost fast. I just didn't get enough wins to allow me to play longer. Even in slot play I had no winnings to speak of. Oh well, next time.
The other problem with this trip was the weather. The temp was a high of 110 in the day and a low of mid-80's at night. The next trip I am voting for winter, and then it is only highs in 80's. Much more pleasant.
Our trip home was relatively painful as well. Our flight from Vegas to Fort Worth was on time and fine. It was the Fort Worth to National leg that had issues. On that day (and before and after) there were massive storms in the DC/Balt area, it was equivalent to a hurricane in water dropped and length but was simply a big normal storm. This caused our plane to take off almost 2 hours late. Once we got close to National the visibility was so low that the pilot couldn't land. We kept circling for an hour or so. At one point the pilot said it was likely we would have to divert to Dulles. Luckily we were able to approach from the North instead of South and land. I finally got home about midnight that day.
Who knows what Vegas 07 will bring?