Tuesday, December 21, 2010

travel required

So my company recently opened up some new positions for 2011. I won't go into too much detail about them, though. Speaking of that — I don't know if you noticed, but I don't like to talk about work-specifics on my blog. Those of you who know where I work might understand why, but honestly it really wouldn't be that big of a deal. Still, I'd rather be safe, than sorry. Anyways, back to the position. It's interesting and a completely different position than software engineering. The catch? Well there's two actually: one, I'm not quite qualified (d'oh), and two, it requires the ability to travel up to 50% of the time.

The reason I'm not quite "qualified" is that the lowest engineering position they opened up is still higher than my current position, which I just got promoted to last year. By their standards, I probably don't have adequate experience. And as for the travel thing... I'm undecided honestly. The position will include some great experience for me, so having to travel frequently would simply be a trade-off for that. Also, there is probably no better time in my life to have this kind of position than now. As you get older, the ability to travel as part of your job becomes harder. That isn't to say it wouldn't be hard now, since I'm in a relationship, have a dog, etc. It would be easier now than later, though.

Whoa, whoa. I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to apply, but the likelihood of landing this job is pretty low because of the aforementioned experience qualifications, and that there are only a handful of positions opening up (and we have a lot of engineers in our company).

I won't be disappointed if I don't get the job, but I might be disappointed giving up a potentially good opportunity without even trying.

Friday, December 17, 2010

winding down 2010

We're starting our final descent of 2010, and we should be landing in 2011 shortly. Please put your seats and tray tables in their upright and locked positions.

I got a B+ in my class. 87 on the midterm and the final, and a 92 average for our projects gave me an 88.6 in the class. I guess curving is out of the question, huh? I thought graduate classes only gave A's.

I have a pretty hefty break for Christmas thanks to my work's holiday schedule. I get off December 24 through January 3. My first day back at work is January 4. As you would expect, my brain has shut down — a week too early, I might add. Everyday at work this week has felt like a Friday for various reasons (meetings, holiday luncheon, etc). Finally, it is Friday and it has been slow as hell. It's only 11 AM! We also have a holiday potluck today, so I've been grazing on food all morning which really compounds my work ethic issues.

P90 is still ongoing; I am about to enter week 5. Time is starting to go by quick, huh? I was hoping that by around now, P90X would seem like less of a chore. Unfortunately, I still don't really want to start working out. A couple of times I have skipped a day, but made up for it by making that skip day my recovery day for the week. That way I've still stayed on schedule. I still need to be eating more. It's a constant battle.

Since I've moved sharing links to the left bar, I've had less blog updates. Plus I haven't been updating as often. I might start sharing links in blog entries, too. That way I'll have more updates for you guys, plus I can add my witty commentaries as well. I'm sure you guys don't really care either way, though.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

xmas break around the corner

Okay, so it's a pretty big corner, since we still have 2 weeks.

What's happened lately? Not a whole helluva lot, honestly. I finished my class in Software Systems Engineering. We took our final on Tuesday, and I felt I did well. It feels like an A performance, but with the way the professor grades (i.e. bullshit), I wouldn't be surprised or that disappointed with a high B. Mid B or lower will be a disappointment, though. I'll find out this coming week.

P90X is still ongoing. I had a lapse day yesterday, skipping Kenpo X. I thought I was catching a cold and felt kind of gross, so I didn't try to push myself. It turns out it was just a random allergy outbreak out of nowhere (I barely even went outside!). I'm feeling better today, and started my recovery week on schedule. I am now on the last week of phase 1, week 4. My weight gain has plateaued. I need to eat more. A lot more.

Unfortunately there's nothing more for me to really add. I'm listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack as I write this, and it's good. Nothing groundbreaking, but it was composed by Daft Punk and they did a good job of mixing electronic and orchestral. Taylor and I are going to 10:30PM IMAX 3D showing of Tron Legacy on Friday. I don't really know why I'm excited about it, but I don't have that much reason not to be excited about it, I suppose. Nothing wrong with getting excited about things, right?

I haven't even had all that much going on in my links section, either. Nothing seems very interesting in the news and on the internet these days. Oh, there's that whole Wikileaks thing. I won't be talking about that, though.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

p90x - 2 weeks down

I am now done with the first 16 days of P90X. So far, so good.

I've gained approximately 4 pounds, and obviously that is attributed to my focus on [slightly] better diet and more calories via added protein shakes and meals/snacks.

I had a couple of "weak" days this past week, where I had to stop about 15-20 mins early because I simply ran out of energy. With my hyperactive metabolism, I have to make sure I have enough carbs in me by workout time, otherwise I will burn through my energy and start fatiguing. It gets hard to balance, because I have to worry about making sure I have enough available energy to burn, but without eating so close to my workout that bad things happen. I think the sweet spot is a good carb meal about 2 hours before workout, and an energy bar right before or throughout my workout.

I'm able to push myself more and more in my workouts these days, because I'm learning to slowly overcome the mental blocks in your mind telling you to stop. A big key to pushing yourself in P90X is taking mini-breaks in the middle of your set. For example, if you feel like you're on your last rep for pushups, rest for a few seconds before you go down for your last rep, and you might be pleasantly surprised that you can push out an extra rep or two.

Once I'm done with this week, I will be on my "recovery" week for phase 1. The recovery week basically omits the strength training and plyometric routines, and replaces them with yoga, stretching, etc.

For this coming week and the past two, I've done the following:
Sat - Chest+Back, Ab Ripper X
Sun - Plyometrics
Mon - Shoulders+Arms, Ab Ripper X
Tues - Yoga X
Wed - Legs+Back, Ab Ripper X
Thurs - Kenpo X
Fri - Rest

Next week, starting next Saturday, I will be "recovering" with this routine:

Sat - Yoga X
Sun - Core Synergistics
Mon - Kenpo X
Tues - X Stretch
Wed - Core Synergistics
Thurs - Yoga X
Fri - Rest

I'm so close to phase 2... but still 74 days to go.

Friday, December 3, 2010

zeale + awolnation

Last night, Taylor and I went to The Parish to see AWOLNATION.

Opening act was Zeale, and as usual I was skeptical because I didn't know who he/they were. Well, that's why you never assume. It was a rapper + DJ group, and they were pretty damn good. He had a longer set than I was expecting, too, which was impressive. I'm by no means a rap expert, but he reminded me of Lupe Fiasco. His lyrics were fresh, and he touched on many subjects aside from the typical crap you hear on radio. He closed with a "freestyle" rap, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he prepared most of it. Maybe not, though, in retrospect.

After Zeale, AWOLNATION came out and dropped a couple good songs on us. Then, believe it or not, the drummer broke his bass drum head. I wouldn't have expected the drummer to have another one just lying around, and he didn't. The highlight of the show was the intermission that followed.

While the band briefly dismissed while they figured out how to address the bass drum (they later acquired a whole new bass drum from somewhere, as a solution), they later came back out but with Zeale on the mic. What followed was pure awesomeness: the band started jamming a little funk groove, and Zeale just started freestyling while we waited. It was very good, too. Unfortunately I can't describe the awesome, but I'm sure somebody was recording some of it. It's bound to be on YouTube. They just jammed for 7 or 8 minutes, with Zeale freestyling the entire time. He definitely has talent, as I would have run out of words after the second or third line.

Once they found a new bass drum, the show continued to rock. They had a lot of energy and it all sounded great. That was the most bang for the buck concert I've been to in a while; tickets were only $8 a pop. Here are some samples of Zeale, and AWOLNATION, respectively:

Zeale - Monzter Hospital


AWOLNATION - Sail

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

the best stovetop ever

I want this stove top! It's such an ingenious idea. How has no one thought of this, yet? Unfortunately, it's just a concept and it doesn't actually exist. But when it does...

Monday, November 29, 2010

quarter-centennial

I am now 25 years old... yeesh.

What has happened in the last few days? Well, I had work Wednesday but I left just before lunch because I was tired of being there. Instead of staying, I took a half-day vacation to precede our holiday break. It turned out to be a good choice, as the extra half day felt like a whole day and made my break feel much longer.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and I drove to my cousin's new house in San Antonio to spend time with the family. His new house is nice, and I had a good time there. We ate a lot of food, and cake in celebration of my birthday. Football did not go well, however, as the Cowboys and Longhorns both lost stupid games.

Friday was my birthday, and it was pretty eventful. We jammed for a couple hours earlier in the afternoon, and then people started coming over for our "friends" version of Thanksgiving (since we were all busy with family on Thursday). We played some touch football outside for maybe 30 minutes worth, but I still had a good hour in me. I really like playing football. Unfortunately, other people didn't share my enthusiasm, so we went back inside. The food was all delicious, with people bringing various things, and the remainder of the night was filled with games, chatting, and drinking.

On Saturday, Taylor came back so we spent most of the day hanging out. We watched Social Network and caught up on our various TV shows. It was a nice, relaxing day.

I was in the mood to be out and about Sunday, so we went to Fry's, Academy, and the mall. I didn't end up getting anything from Fry's, but I found some "cheap" 30lb adjustable dumbbells at Academy, so I bought two ($50 each). $100 might sound expensive for two dumbbells, but it's actually a decent deal. They're adjustable, so that means that with a slider I can adjust each dumbbell from 5-30lbs in 2.5 lb increments. That means I don't take up a bunch of space with many different dumbbells. Furthermore, if you were to buy individual dumbbells, they cost on average about $1/lb. That means if I wanted to buy a pair of 15's, 20's, 25's, and 30's, that would cost 15+15+20+20+25+25+30+30 = 180 dollars. So I'm saving money and space! They are far from great quality, but they're good enough quality to get the job done. Similar dumbbells are on sale on Amazon for $150-300!

This dumbbell purchase is obviously for P90X. I don't remember if I mentioned before, but the dumbbells and weights I pulled from Travis's storage unit aren't going to get the job done. They're adjustable, but in the manual sense. You have to unscrew the clamps on each side, pull the plates, put new plates on, then screw the clamps back on — for both. Adding 1 minute in between many 30 second routines in P90X is aggravating and slows you down considerably.

At any rate, P90X is still ongoing and I haven't given up yet. I am on day 10 today, and so far I have no desire to quit. It's hard, but not too hard. It's challenging, but not too challenging. Dare I say I'm already seeing some improvement? I've started week 2, and my results have increased from week 1. That's not all that surprising, however. When you first start something like this, I expect that you would see gains pretty easily at first, but the trick is to keep improving without plateauing. We'll see where I am on day 91 when I do my fit test again!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

almost there...

One more day of work and then I'm on Thanksgiving break! It's only 4 days, although I'm hoping it'll feel longer. Today is going to be a slow day at work, so I'm starting my day off with this blog entry...

Not much else has been going on, unfortunately. The past weekend I spent mostly with Taylor because she left Monday to go home for the week.

Justin, Andy, and I are working on a cover of "Tighten Up" by The Black Keys, and we're going to record a video of us playing it. I'm going to post it up here on my blog to share. Hopefully we'll have that done by the end of next weekend. Justin's on guitar, Andy's on bass (and our sound tech, and our audio engineer), and I'm going to attempt to rock the drums and vocals at the same time. You're in for a treat (sarcasm).

Otherwise, I've been continuing on with P90X. I've finished day 3 and 4.

Day 3 was Shoulders/Arms, and Ab Ripper. There were 12 shoulder/arm exercises, which you repeat in groups of 3 (1-2-3, 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 4-5-6, etc). I need to get actual dumbbells for these. I have Travis's weights, which are the weight plates that you can slide on and off the dumbbell to adjust the weight you need. However, when moving quickly with P90X, it becomes really hard to slide them on and off in a timely manner. Instead I had to find a weight that worked more or less for every exercise, and just kept the dumbbells at that.

Day 4 was Yoga X. Man, that was different. I had never done any yoga before, and the P90X version was pretty intense for a yoga workout (at least I'd assume). The first 45 minutes you're doing a lot of twisting  and lunge positions (burns your legs a lot), then you do about 20-25 mins of balancing positions, another 20-25 mins of floor work, then end with 15-20 mins of stretching positions and ab work. All in all, it's about 90 minutes long, but I had to skip the last 8 mins and go straight to the cool down because I was getting really hungry and fatigued.

Here are some of the crazier positions I attempted (some semi-successfully, some not so much):

Twisting Half Moon

Right-angle pose + grab

Crane (balancing position)

You're holding this position for 30 seconds... yeah right

Overall, I actually enjoyed it. It was challenging and I can tell that it will help my balance and flexibility. It's pretty repetitive in the beginning but they're also kind of hard so it's good to get a few chances at things.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

p90x day 2

Plyometrics? Piece of cake!

Okay, not really, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm too tired to go into details though, but it was a lot of jumping and squatting exercises, which burn. At the same time, your heart rate is high most of the time, too, so you're working up a good sweat.

The whole thing was about 58 mins including 5 mins of warmup and 5 mins of cooldown. I did pretty much all of the exercises, but I skipped the ones that involved doing 180 degree jumps because they were making me dizzy. I opted instead to take 30 second breaks or continued to run in place during those 4-ish exercises. There were also a few "bonus" exercises at the end which I skipped, but I think I'll have the stamina to do those next time. Excluding the bonus exercises, there are 20 exercises that you repeat in sets of 4. For instance, you would do exercise 1-4, then repeat 1-4, then continue doing 5-8, repeat those, etc.

Phew.

88 days to go...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

p90x fitness test + day 1

Even the fitness test was rough! Although, the fact I had a huge bowl of pasta only 30 mins prior probably didn't help. I'm really stupid sometimes.

Before day 1, here are my results:

Resting heart rate: 72
Pull-ups: 5
Vertical leap: 23"
Push-ups: 35
Toe Touch: -2.5" (I'm 2.5" away from touching my toes)
Wall Squat: 1' 27"
Bicep curls: 14
Ab test: 36 in-outs

Heart rate test (1.5 mins of jumping jacks, then 30 seconds of jumping jacks as fast as you can):
Immediately after: 142
1 min after: 126
2 mins after: 112
3 mins after: 106
4 mins after: 106



And Day 1 begins... Chest and Back.

Chest and back is structured as 12 exercises that you repeat in two rounds, over about 50 minutes excluding warm-ups. I got through the first round, and I was noticeably having to push myself through the second round. I got through almost all of it, having to bail on the last 3 exercises because I was physically fatigued and thought if I pushed myself any harder I might risk throwing up. Whoopee!

It was rough, but I did better than I thought I would. 21 out of 24 exercises on the first day! I used a stool to assist my pull-ups, which allowed me to do more and push myself better (the stool was essentially spotting me). I need to increase the weight on the dumbbells though, but I have to run by Travis's storage unit to pick up more of the plates.

My weakness is cardio - once my heart rate gets up I don't feel very good. On strength training days, such as today, you do a 15 min "Ab Ribber X" workout as well. I had to take quite a few breathers and it was truly ripping up my abs, but I didn't feel as gross as I did for chest and back. Maybe because my endorphins kicked in, or maybe because my heart rate wasn't up as high. Who knows. Despite it being ridiculous, I enjoyed the ab exercises.

Day 2, tomorrow, will be Plyometrics, and I heard this is one of the hardest, most vomit-inducing ones because it's a lot of high-impact movements. The key though is to push yourself hard, but not too hard. I expect that at some point through these 90 days, I will be very close to puking. I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily, although I prefer not to do it. It just shows that I'm truly pushing myself hard and I'll hopefully see the rewards by the end.

I don't foresee updating you guys every day for all 90 days, but I'll probably write up everytime I do a specific routine for the first time. I'll also periodically update you on how things are going, and if I'm continuing onward or giving up.

89 days to go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TSA and you

For those of you who check out my links to the left, you may have noticed a trend lately - the TSA. I am not a fan of the direction the TSA has taken since its inception in 2001. In fact, that's an interesting tidbit for those who have forgotten. The TSA has been around for less than 10 years. It was created as a division of Homeland Security after 9/11. What about before then? Private security companies were contracted for each airport, and I think that's how it needs to be once again.

First, let's take a look at what TSA has become: an overreaching, privacy-invading security theater for airports. Now, that's of course just my opinion, but I have yet to be convinced otherwise. I think every additional security step they have introduced has been simply reactionary, and they have little imagination and foresight to prevent future attacks. In fact, its creation was reactionary. We had the tragic 9/11 attacks, so we created the TSA because we thought it would help. We had the shoe bomber, so we started taking off our shoes. We had some liquid scare, so now we can't have more than 3oz of any liquid. Now we have this underwear bomber guy, so they escalated their roll-outs of the full-body scanners. At one point, however, have they actually prevented a major incident? None that I can recall, although I could be mistaken. All of those potential attacks went completely by the TSA. Imagine that.

Before 2001, I am fairly certain that we were targets of terrorists. In fact, to my recollection there have been extremists out there who have hated us since the mid-1900's when we screwed up that whole Israel-Palestine thing. Yet, we still somehow got by. Since 9/11, we (the U.S. Government) have been infused with fear, and that fear has driven us to points that I deem unacceptable.

The sad truth is that if a terrorist wants to wreak havoc, they will find a way to do it. Not to instill fear in anyone, but we could all be sitting at our jobs and a suicide bomber could just come in and blow us all up. There are some harsh realities out there, and one of them is that we could die at any moment. But it doesn't even have to be from a terrorist attack. It could be from a car accident, natural causes, or anything really. Think about the New York subways for a moment. There are thousands of people who ride the subways every day, and yet we don't have crazy security restrictions involved there. Metro buses? Trains? Ferries? What makes an airport and an airplane any different?

Now I'm not saying we shouldn't have any security, nor should we just abolish the screening process altogether. However, I just don't think TSA helps and it's been pretty evident so far. Now they are starting to cross lines. Not only are they inefficient and ineffectual, but they continue to impose stricter security on us simply to appear as if they are actually doing something. At some point, we as a people have to push back. "Pushing back" is one of the foundations of this country (think the American Revolution), lest we forget. At what point do you draw the line for a "security theater"?

So what is the TSA doing these days? Full-body scans and invasive pat-downs. Those are your two options in most airports if you don't get the trusty metal detector. You have two choices for the body scan: x-ray and radio-wave/millimeter-wave. The former has some people questioning the legitimacy of their safety claims. These type of x-ray full-body scanners are still in their infancies as far as I'm concerned, and we really have no way of knowing long-term effects and potential cancer risks. The radio-wave or millimeter-wave scanners are apparently safer, according to the previously linked article. Is it actually dangerous? Hell if I know, but to me, it's not worth the risk. It might be worth the risk if I thought that we as a society actually valued the full body scanner. When we get radiation at a hospital via x-rays or treatment, we are doing it because the benefits outweigh the risks. I want to see if my bone is broken. I don't get shit from being scanned at the airport.

If you've read this far into my blog, then you have the patience to read this very interesting piece on how they handle security at the Israel airport. They profile people, have behavioral specialists everywhere, and only scan belongings as a backup. They don't look for weapons, they look for people. It's a method that actually makes sense, but I admit that at this point, setting up a system like that in the U.S. would be very costly. Then again, I wonder how much money we're draining into this piece of shit we call the TSA.

Also, did you guys know that airports can opt-out of the TSA and go back to privatized companies now? They only had to use the TSA for 2 years after its formation, apparently. A representative has already started contacting airports to let them know about this clause in the original bill.

Here are a few more views on the TSA:
-Full Frontal Nudity Doesn’t Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSA
-Has Airport Security Gone Too Far?
-TSA screenings: Government stupidity at work

I'm not one to really take up causes, but I think we're at a crucial point in our society. I know some people simply don't care and will do whatever, but that doesn't make what they're doing right. Apathy does not breed anything good. The TSA has no qualms to continue to violate our privacies for the sake of "security" and eventually it'll be on us to tell them we've had enough. They have no concept otherwise. In fact, they seem to have no problem harassing 3-year-olds.

I'm curious if you guys have an opinion on this. Am I just going overboard here? In the mean time, you can count on me to opt-out of the scanners. Yes, I'll have to deal with getting violated with a pair of hands, but at least I know for certain that there won't be any adverse side-effects.

Monday, November 15, 2010

seattle recap, and...*gasp*... p90x?

Hey everyone, back from Seattle!

First, I'd like to thank Justin, Andy, and Marisa for chiming in for my last blog post regarding finances. I appreciate you taking the time! That's the beauty of finances — there really isn't any "right" or "wrong" way for anyone, and everyone's mileage is sure to vary.

Well, I'm back from Seattle and I suppose I owe you some recap. Most of it was site-seeing so I probably won't go into too much detail, but rather give you a nice overview. Pictures will be posted on Facebook later, mostly because I'm too lazy to upload them right now.

Thursday/Friday
We arrived Thursday night and Travis dropped us off at our hotel. That was about all Thursday entailed. Friday morning we got ready and and walked around downtown some, including the Space Needle. When I say we walked, I mean it. For the majority of our stay in Seattle, we walked everywhere. It was a lot of walking, and it might have been more than we walked in New York, solely because we didn't use any mass transportation.

At any rate, we walked down to the court house to meet up with Travis for lunch, and we ate at a nice seafood joint (this will be repeating theme). After lunch, we went to the top of the Columbia Tower, which has a really great view, being the tallest building in Seattle. Next we went back to Travis's court house where he gave us a grand tour, and we met Judge Richard C. Tallman, a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Needless to say, I was very humbled shaking the hand of a man who, in my opinion, is very important.

We left Travis to wrap up his day at the court house, and went on to Pike's Market. It's a very cool market with tons of fish and other shops. To compare it to something in Austin (albeit with some futility), it would be a combination of the South Congress shops/booths, and the Whole Foods fruits/veggies/butcher sections. Their produce selection was what I was hoping to see when I went to the Austin Farmer's Market downtown, but frankly the selection was rather underwhelming, especially compared to Pike's Market. As any first timer should, we went to the first Starbuck's location and got some coffee and souvenirs.

Later, we met up with Travis again for dinner, and ate more seafood. Taylor and I were incredibly exhausted and could not stay out very late, due in combination to the time change, endless walking, and an early morning.

Saturday
Saturday morning we went on the Underground Tour, which was pretty cool, funny, and entertaining. Our guide was hilarious. Apparently, when Seattle was first constructed, they did a very poor job because they didn't take account the hills and the impact they would make. They decided they needed to relevel the ground to even it all out, but they couldn't just shut down the businesses for years while they did this. Instead, the businesses continued, and the streets and land around them were slowly raised. This resulted in the first floors and sidewalks of businesses becoming underground basements and walkways, while the rest of the land around them became the new "first floor." Very strange.

Next we hit up the ferry to Bainbridge, mostly for the ferry ride and the views. Once we got back to Seattle from our round trip, we went to a Texas bar and watched our pathetic football game. After that shit-tastic "competition" we hit up yet another seafood place, and I had a delicious, thick-cut salmon fillet. Another early night due to exhaustion (early being 10 PST).

Sunday
Today was mostly a travel day, but we did have time to hit up the EMP/SFM, which is a music/sci-fi museum. It was pretty cool, and they had a Battlestar Galactica exhibit setup right now which was also cool to see. Before Travis dropped us off at the airport, we had lunch at some Thai/Pho place. It was good.

That about wraps up my trip, and despite this entry being long enough already, I have another topic to share.

P90X
This will be the first of hopefully some future P90X blog updates. Well, for starters, if you don't know what P90X is, check out this link. In a nutshell, it's an intense 90 day workout that combines cardio, strength training, plyometrics, and yoga. There is only 1 optional day an entire week, so I will be working out for about an hour almost every day for that time period. Yes, this sounds terrible, doesn't it?

Why the hell do I want to do P90X? I don't even really know. Nah, just kidding, I do know. More than anything, I want to challenge myself and my willpower to see if I can take on something like this. It takes a heavy commitment to work out almost everyday for an hour for 90 or so days. I want to challenge myself to see if I can meet that commitment if I really put my mind to it. And, if I do manage to last, I will be very proud of myself. Hell, to be honest, I'll be proud if I even make it half way, but half way is still quitting and I won't have achieved my goal. All or nothing!

Where did this come from? Well, recently I was talking to Andy about his friend Matt, who has been bulking up for body building competitions or what not (I don't remember the specifics). I remember saying something like, "Man, he must have some will power/commitment, there is no way I could do that." Saying that displeased me. I want to be able to commit to something like this if I really wanted. I don't expect to bulk up from P90X, however, and it's not designed for that (just increased physical fitness). But Matt's accomplishment(s) has spurred me to do something of my own.

So now I'm challenging myself and letting everyone know. That way, if I decide I want to quit, I won't be the only one who knows I've quit — so will all of you. And I don't want to let you guys down, right? I've ordered a couple more things I need to begin (pull-up bar, exercise mat), and those should arrive Wednesday. Sometime in the next week I will begin day 1, and I will periodically keep you guys updated. I'm also going to blog about it just so I have a personal record of my progress, too. If you don't care about the P90X updates, feel free to skip them.

Wish me luck guys, I think I'm going to need it.

edit: I encourage all of you to leave me a comment with your guess on how many days I will last. 1? 5? 30? All 90? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

vacation!

Last Friday was my two year anniversary with Taylor, and we went to Uchi to celebrate. It was delicious as expected.

The rest of the weekend was filled with hanging out and sports. The hanging out part was good. The sports part was very, very bad. Both the Longhorns and the Cowboys embarrassed themselves for the umpteenth weekend in a row. Sigh...

[this portion was written Monday night]
I have three presentations tomorrow which will wrap up most of my duties for this charity campaign. I'm less nervous than I was about the leadership presentation, but there will be many more people at these presentations. I'm going to prep for the presentation tonight and tomorrow morning, and we'll just see how it goes. I have a presentation at 9:30, 10:30, and 5:00. What sucks is that usually when you make a presentation, you're relieved and done. In my case, I have to make it again two more times. I'm sure it'll be much easier each subsequent time, though.

[this portion was written Wednesday]
Well I'm done with the presentations and they all went well - except for attendance. Not sure what happened this year, but I only talked to about 60 people total across the three meetings. Oh well, it's still an accomplishment, just not as big as I was hoping.

I need some financial advice from my readers. I am almost done with my car payments, and I have two options for what to do with the extra money: put it toward my student loans, or my savings. The typical financial advice that you would receive is to put it toward your loans because of the interest rates. My savings account has an APY of 3%, whereas my student loans have an average rate of about 4.5%. However, I'm hoping to have a solid enough chunk of money saved up in the next one to two years such that I can make a down payment for a house and afford all the necessities involved. I would like to put the extra money all toward my savings, in order to boost that account. Of course, the smart compromise would be to split it up - maybe half and half? All I know is that if I put it all toward my loans, my savings account won't be able to grow as much and I won't be as financially ready in the future for a commitment such as a house.

I wish I knew some financial experts.

Tomorrow I leave for Seattle with the always-beautiful Taylor Yowell. We're going there in part to celebrate our anniversary, but also to visit a good friend who left us for Seattle a couple months ago — Travis, of course. Should be a fun weekend, and relaxing if nothing else. I need the break.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two years!

It's our two year anniversary today. We're going to Uchi tonight. It's gonna be a good day.

The love is strong

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

woo-wee

Today was a fun day for me. As part of my community fund coordinating duties, I had to give a presentation to our leadership today, or at least to those who had time and weren't out on travel.

I was a bit nervous about it this morning, but after a few dry runs I was good to go. The nervousness subsided and I gave a pretty good presentation, and I even got some praise afterwards.

I don't normally like to brag about my accomplishments, but I am particularly proud of this one. It's also an important part of growing as an individual, and trying to take on things outside of your comfort zone.

My duties are not quite over, though. I have two more presentations to give next week (duplicate presentations to different groups of people). These presentations will be for the general masses at work, and while they'll be larger scale in terms of audience size, I think it will be an easier presentation overall.

Once I'm done with that (next Tuesday), I only have another day of work and then I leave for Seattle with Taylor for the weekend!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gorillaz videos

I went ahead and uploaded my iPhone videos from the Gorillaz concert, if you're interested.

Click the links above the vids to go to the YouTube page, where you can see the HD versions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fB4jRTSBxk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFXcz6Uflyg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZvVjD75awE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avC_0a45_oo

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Man oh man oh man

It seems like a lot is going on lately, but really I don't think that's the case. Maybe just a lot going on in my mind.

Last weekend I went to see the Gorillaz, which was one of the best concerts I've seen. I wasn't sure how I felt about their newest album, but it's grown on me quite a bit. As for the concert, it was simply a lot of fun. They had a huge screen behind the stage where they played animations and music videos, and they never had less than 10 people on the stage performing. They had a strings section, the occasional brass section, an Syrian/Arabic music group for a couple songs, a couple drummers — you name it, they probably had it on stage. When they played their singles that had corresponding music videos, they were always timed well. When people were singing live, it was correctly matching up with lip movement in the videos. The animations really raised the fun factor in my opinion. Not to mention that everyone on the stage (including Damon Albarn) was having a blast and was very energetic.

I took a couple videos on my phone, but I have yet to really figure out the best way of uploading videos to YouTube. Strange that I've never done that before. Fear not, though. They have live performances on YouTube already for your viewing pleasure!

For no reason other than to make my blog post longer, here is the setlist for their concert (notice how many guest artists they had):

-Orchestral Intro (Extended)
-Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach (with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble)
-19/2000 (with Rosie Wilson)
-Last Living Souls
-Stylo (with Bobby Womack and Bootie Brown)
-On Melancholy Hill
-Rhinestone Eyes
-Superfast Jellyfish (with De La Soul)
-Tomorrow Comes Today
-Empire Ants (with Yukimi Nagano)
- Broken (Extended)
-Dirty Harry (with Bootie Brown)
-El Mañana
-White Flag (with Kano and Bashy and the American Syrian Orchestra; extended)
-To Binge (with Yukimi Nagano)
-DARE (with Rosie Wilson)
-Glitter Freeze
-Plastic Beach

Encore:
-Cloud of Unknowing (with Bobby Womack)
-Feel Good Inc. (with De La Soul)
-Clint Eastwood (with Bashy and Kano)
-Don't Get Lost In Heaven
-Demon Days (with Bobby Womack)


That's quite the setlist, don't you think? If they ever come back to Austin in the future, I will definitely go again. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that N.E.R.D. was the opener! They were also good, but unfortunately they played 90% new songs of their upcoming album which I didn't know. I wasn't able to get into their songs as much because of that. They performed well, though.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. The Longhorns lost to a terrible team Iowa State and people are really beginning to question what our coaching staff is doing with our players. Cowboys lost on Monday to the Giants.

I had a midterm in my class on Tuesday and it went well enough. It was a hard test to study for in that there weren't many things to study for. We've only learned a handful of concepts, and the rest of the class has been learning how to apply those concepts. At this point, you either understand it or you don't. Most of the test was easy, but he did design some intentionally hard questions to throw some people off. I'd assume the average on the test was a mid-to-low B, and that I scored somewhere around average. I'd be surprised if I eked out an A, and I'd be equally surprised/upset if I got a C. I'll find out next week, I suppose.

We had our last kickball game last night and we finally won again! It was a really good game. Both teams were into it, but were still having a good time. Both teams respected each other and showed great sportsmanship, too. After a hard fought battle (where I injured myself as usual), we sneaked out a win in the last inning, 6-5. We are likely not in the playoffs, but we still finished out the season with a win, bringing our record to a respectable 4-3.

Today is the last day of my work week, and I'm ready for it. This weekend is Halloween weekend and I don't have any solid plans, but there are a lot of potential things going on. We also have a game against Baylor which we will probably lose. Losing to Baylor, the #1 team in the Big 12 South — what is happening to the world?

Other stuff probably happened in the past week which I forgot to mention, but that's what happens when you don't update in a while.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

update forthcoming

Just give me a day!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hello my blog faithful!

Sorry that my updates have been few and far between lately! I haven't had a whole lot going on that has been noteworthy lately, so I haven't had much to talk about. I do have a few tidbits for you, though, so let's get to it.

As a reminder, I am the site coordinator at work for our site plus 2 others for a United Way-style giving campaign. It turns out that my work will involve more than I originally thought: public speaking. I will be leading the presentation given to anyone on our campus who wants to attend (generally 40%). 40% is probably 200ish employees. I've never talked in front of 200 people before. That's a scary, yet still exciting, prospect. I better make sure I'm prepared lest I make a fool out of myself in front of a lot of people.

My allergies are still going strong, but not quite as strong as a couple weeks back. Andy has recently caught an alleged cold, and I don't think I'd even be able to tell anymore between my continued allergies and a newly-caught cold from him (or whomever).

Also, a bit of sad news today. Recently, Stella, the family pet, has been pretty sick. The vet told my aunt that the best course of action at this point is to euthanize her. My aunt made the hard decision and it's going to happen today. No need for any tearjerkers, but she has been a great pet to me, my dad, and the rest of my family. She loved many and was loved by many, and made a lot of people very happy.



More frequent posts to come in the future! I promise!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recap

ACL was a lot of fun, albeit exhausting and allergy-ridden.

On Friday, Taylor, Andy, Kelcey, and I arrived at the park around 12 and we were there until about 9:50PM. Friday was the worst day for my allergies, and I went through three packets of pocket kleenex. I ended up seeing the following bands, with asterisks next to my top picks of the weekend.

  • GIVERS
  • The Soft Pack
  • Blues Traveler
  • Miike Snow*
  • The Black Keys*
  • Spoon
  • Vampire Weekend*
  • The Strokes
  • Phish
On Saturday morning, I rode on my bike to the motorcycle gear shop and picked up a couple cable locks so that we could lock up our helmets and jackets at ACL. We rode to ACL and got there around 12:00 again and the motorcycle lot was conveniently close. Typically you are looking at a 30 minute walk to your car but it was only about 10 at the most. My allergies were still acting up but were a little less evil. However I was very loopy, because I took a Claritin in the morning, a Zyrtec in the early afternoon, and 2 Sudafed every 3 hours from morning until night. And it didn't even really help!
  • The Very Best*
  • Pete Yorn
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • Beats Antique* (only saw them for the briefest time but they were good)
  • Broken Bells*
  • The Temper Trap
  • The xx
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Muse*******************
By Sunday morning I was very beat. Combined with the intense allergies, hours in the sun, and exhaustion from walking, I didn't want to get to ACL until much later in the day. Taylor and I finally left at 3, even though I still didn't want to leave yet, and we got there around 3:40ish.
  • Yeasayer
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  • The Flaming Lips
  • Band of Horses
  • The National*
  • Eagles
Sunday was a mostly disappointing day for me, because of my fatigue and the music that I wasn't very hyped up about. Band of Horses and Flaming Lips were both good, but neither were as good as I was hoping. The National stole the whole day, in my opinion. Eagles were good, but I'm not a big enough fan and their music is too chill for me by that point in the festival. We stayed until about 9 and then left early.

$50 tickets go on sale at a random time this week. Will I be lucky enough to snatch another pair? Let's hope so.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ACL 2010!

I'll be gone to ACL 2010 from Friday-Sunday, see you guys later!

In the meantime, here are the songs I'm looking forward to hearing live:






Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Firefighters refuse to help man who didn't pay his fee

This has to be the most ridiculous story I've read recently.

Let me set up the story for you. Every year, residents living in the rural area of Obion County must pay a $75 fee for fire fighter service from South Fulton. As you'd expect, this family did not pay the fee that year, for reasons I don't know.

Well, as you can probably assume at this point, their house caught fire and they called 911. "Didn't pay your fee? Whoops, talk to you later!" That's basically the response he got.
This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.
...
It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't. 
So, let's get this straight. They denied coming to help him because he didn't pay the fee. Harsh. A short while later, the fire spread to the neighbors house. Then they came to the neighbors house to put out the fire, and continued to ignore the Cranicks' burning house.

Their response seems so ridiculously morally incorrect that it honestly upsets me. Over $75 measly dollars, they refused to come and save a man's residence from burning down. Then, even after they arrived on the scene to help the neighbors' houses, they still refused to help him. Are you shitting me? What happened to civic duty? How about instead of making it optional, you just tax them $75 a year so we don't have these situations? How about instead of refusing to put out a fire, you fine someone $300 if they didn't pay the $75 fee? How about instead of letting a family's residence and possessions get destroyed in a fire over $75, you just help them out because it's the right thing to do? How important is $75 to you that you are willing to risk the obvious media, community, and political backlash? It's so stupid that I can't fathom their thought process.
To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters.
Good for you.

[Full story via WPSD]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Man oh man

Writing these blog entries can be kind of a chore sometimes. That's the price you pay for becoming a world-famous blog writer, right?

Last week was good, mostly because I can't remember anything. Since I can't remember anything bad, I'll assume it was good. Friday morning I went with Andy to the skate park to take some pictures. Not only have I not used my camera in a long time, but it's hard to take pictures of live action. Trying to focus on him while he's skating around doing tricks was sometimes an exercise in futility. Luckily, I remembered that a high aperture yields me a much bigger depth of field, which helps remedy that situation a bit.

Here are some of Andy's favorites, but check the links above for the full album:




Friday night, we went to see Daniel Tosh, who does live stand-up comedy. He and his two openers were both funnier than I expected. It was also the first time I've seen stand-up live. All-in-all, it was a good night.

On Saturday, we watched the Red River Rivalry — which I still think sounds inferior to its old name, the Red River Shootout — and it was disappointing. Our defense is good, but not good enough to win games by themselves. Our offense and special teams are a joke this year. I can't believe we started the most important and boisterous game of the year with two horizontal passes that netted us -2 yards each. Did you notice how, on third downs, our routes were always well-shy of the first down? What the hell is wrong with our team? Here are some fun stats, courtesy of Burnt Orange Nation:
  • 8 -- number of times Texas faced a third down of eight or more yards.
  • 6 -- number of times that Garrett Gilbert completed passes short of the first down marker on third down.
What does that say about our team? What about the fact that after DJ Monroe scored a 60+ yard touchdown, he only had 3 more touches the rest of the game? It's really beyond me what's going on.

That's enough about the game. Saturday night we went to see Justin's show at Dizzy Rooster. Show was both good and expectedly loud, so I brought my ear plugs. Much to my surprise, after the show the music blaring out of the bar's sound system was even louder. No wonder today's youth are going deaf.

Sunday was filled with errands, chores, and football.

This week is another, even busier week. I have class on Tuesday, kickball on Wednesday, a makeup class on Thursday, followed by three days of ACL! I'm excited about ACL, but I have to get to the weekend first.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's already Sunday?!

This weekend wasn't quite long enough.

In my last blog entry, I said that the week was going to be slightly busy. Well it turned out to be very busy, because my workload increased 10x because I misunderstood a chart and thought I was almost done when I wasn't. Luckily I finished everything on time, but not without some serious effort.

Despite the scattered rain, we still had our kickball game late Wednesday night around 9 PM, and we lost 2-9. It was still fun though, so that's good, right?

Taylor got back into town yesterday about an hour into our Texas football game. All I'm going to say about our football game is that there is something seriously wrong with our offense. Is it the coaches, the players, the schemes, or what? I don't know but something is obviously wrong. Some people claim that it is our coaches, and the only reason they haven't been exposed earlier is because we've had players like Vince Young and Colt McCoy who can put the team on their shoulders and do what has to be done. However, right now we don't have a play-maker. Not on offense, that's for sure. Who is our go-to guy? Who is the guy we can lean on if we're down 3 touchdowns in the fourth quarter? Since we don't have that player, they say that our problems at coaching are going to start coming to light now. I'm not smart enough to be able to agree with certainty, but I do feel that our players aren't being coached as well as they probably could be. My evidence lies in the penalties, the countless mistakes, and the fact that they seemed to give up on their last drive. Do you blame mistakes on the players or the coaches? I don't have enough information to answer that question. Either way, it's going to be a long season if our offense continues this shit play.

So it's Sunday already, huh? My plans are as follows: go visit my mom and grandma for lunch, go to the mall and get some "work" clothes, and get some groceries. I've decided that when I turn 25, I will be mostly ditching the jeans at work. I've been riding the jeans since I started, and at some point I'm going to have to start looking a bit more professional. Well, I've made an executive decision: that point is when I turn 25. Jeans will be reserved for the last day of the week. I've got some shopping to do now!

Oh, and because I'm so proud of myself, here is my Sunday morning breakfast:

Leftover pizza, eggs, and salsa - quite the masterpiece

Saturday, September 25, 2010

ACL 2010 schedule!

I've finally completed my schedule. On Friday and Sunday, I've mostly decided who I'm going to go see during each time slot (exception being early on Sunday). On Saturday, though, there are a lot of bands I want to see. I'm going to have to make a ton of game-time decisions. Alternatively, I can go see parts of all of them, but it might be hard to tear myself away from one good band to see another. Sunday is not a great day, I wish they would have spaced out some of the Saturday bands on Sunday instead.

Here is my 2010 ACL Schedule. Use the little drop down box to switch between the different days.

Here is a list of all the bands I'm going to try to see, so you can get an idea for the sheer amount of music I will be listening to over three days:

Friday

  • GIVERS
  • Vonnegut
  • Charlie Mars
  • The Soft Pack
  • Blues Traveler
  • Carolyn Wonderland
  • Miike Snow
  • The Black Keys
  • The Sword
  • Spoon
  • Vampire Weekend
  • The Strokes
  • Phish

Saturday

  • Balmorhea
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
  • The Very Best
  • Pete Yorn
  • Two Door Cinema Club
  • The Gaslight Anthem
  • Mayer Hawthorne & the County
  • Beats Antique
  • Broken Bells
  • Dan Black
  • The Temper Trap
  • The xx
  • Monsters of Folk
  • Gogol Bordello
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Deadmau5
  • Muse
Sunday
  • Ruby Jane
  • Shearwater
  • Warpaint
  • White Rabbits
  • SPEAK
  • Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  • Frank Turner
  • Blind Pilot
  • Portugal. The Man
  • Gayngs
  • Yeasayer
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  • The Flaming Lips
  • The National
  • The Eagles
All that for only $50! I'm still thrilled that I snatched those super-cheap early bird tickets. ACL: two weeks and counting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Falling behind

I don't feel like I've been all that busy the past week, but I suppose I have been. Sorry I haven't updated this in a while. I won't get back in gear until this weekend, probably, because this week is also slightly busy. I have class Tuesday and Thursday from 4-7, and a kickball game Wednesday night.

Speaking of which, did I even mention that I'm taking a class? It's sponsored by my work and the University of New Hampshire, and it's a course in Software Systems Engineering. Yes, it's about as exciting as it sounds — not. The class is a real college course, so it's 3 hours once a week with a midterm and a final, and it goes through mid-December. I regret signing up for it; my mind does not want to be in any sort of school-mode. Oh well, I'll survive.

I made another recipe last night, shrimp scampi. It was good, but I don't think I cooked it as well as I could have. It's a learning process, I suppose. Now that I look at the comments on that recipe website, I do agree that it could have used some lemon and butter. Also, there was a tip about letting the floured shrimp sit in the fridge for a bit; that might have helped the flour stick to the shrimp better when sautéing. I haven't decided on my next recipe, but I'm feeling something steaky. Perhaps a skirt steak salad? Mmm, sounds good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

French senate approves the "burqa ban"

Something about this ban rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's the fact that it's completely hypocritical.

The French claim that burqas represent a society in which women have no rights, and they want to separate themselves from that. And yet, they feel that the solution to this is take away a woman's right to wear a burqa. Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy? Apparently I'm a minority in France:
The ban has strong public support, but critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil.
That's nice, but if it's only a tiny minority to begin with, then why are they so gung-ho to ban it outright? What if a woman wants to wear a burqa? I cannot claim to understand why they would, but I'm also not a Muslim woman so I can't say that it isn't possible. I'm sure there is a fair percentage of full veil-wearing women in France who are doing so out of choice. In fact, many people do things that make sense to them and few others because of their faith. There are Mormons in America that refuse to see rated R movies. What does that have to do with your faith? Since I'm not Mormon, I can't understand. Yet, you don't see anyone moving to ban any Mormon practices.

However, if the law passes, women who choose to wear a burqa will have this to look forward to:
It envisages fines of 150 euros (£119) for women who break the law
Well done, France.

[BBC - French senate votes to ban Islamic full veil in public]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Think of the Miners

Click for the full-sized version. Thanks to Andy for the link.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One recipe a week

I haven't done much cooking lately, but I think it's time to get back into gear.

I'm going to pick a random recipe every week and make it, starting this week. I'm going to start off with Grilled Chicken w/ Chipotle-Peach glaze. Let's see how that goes, shall we? If you have any recipes to share, feel free to leave a comment (even if it's some future, unrelated blog entry!).

Oh, and New Hampshire was nice. I didn't have much of an opportunity to do anything except go to my training, but the weather as at least fairly pleasant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

off to New Hampshire

Today I fly out to New Hampshire for a few days for United Way training. Luckily for me, I will [mostly] get to miss the fun tropical storm weather.

I'll be back Friday evening. See you then!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Arthur C. Clarke predicts the future in 1964

No, this isn't one of those stupid predictions like helicopters on every rooftop. It is a very insightful prediction of how he foresaw technology becoming a greater role in our lives

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

busy bee

I've been fairly busy lately, and next week I will be flying to New England for training. The training, hosted by United Way, is for our employee charity fund. My flight arrives in Boston Tuesday night, and from there I will drive to Nashua, NH. I'm back in Austin on Friday night.

Since I am going to be gone for a few days for business unrelated to the program I'm working on, I am working extra hours this week and will likely be working extra hours next week to make up for the lost time.

I have been sleeping normal hours this week, but I've been extra tired at work. It hasn't been that bad working the longer days, but apparently my body disagrees.

Monday, August 30, 2010

the end of an era

Travis leaves today for Seattle. It's gonna be weird not living with him anymore; we have been roommates since 2004.

Travis pulling away from the manly embrace
P.S. Look at those sideburns!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

papa habibi

Yes, I'm sorry this blog is like a week late!

My dad was in town for this past long weekend, and we had a good time. Here's the rundown:

Thursday Evening
He landed Thursday evening, we went back to the house for him to settle, and then we went to Rudy's. It was good as always. On the way back, we stopped by Spec's and picked up some Johnnie Walker Gold Label. We commenced drinking half the bottle and playing foosball the remainder of the night.


Friday
We woke up, hit up Starbucks as expected — my dad is a raging coffee-aholic — and then went back to the house and hung out for the remainder of the morning. Shortly after noon, we set out for our journey to the fabulous Fraser lake house, but not before picking up a couple frozen pizzas on the way. Once we arrived, we did a fair amount of eating and hanging out while the dock was prepped. At about 3 or 3:30, Mark and Nadia reached the lake house as well, and we made our way to the boat.

The next four hours were pretty fun, but since we didn't get any pictures I will just use random ones from the internet. We started off kneeboarding, and I went second after Kelcey demonstrated. I got it down by my second attempt, and went for a couple minutes down the lake until I got tired and let go of the rope.

Everyone else got their shot at the kneeboard, and Andy even successfully completed a few 360's. After kneeboarding, we turned to water skiing. Once again, I was second after Kelcey, and miraculously I was able to get going on my first try. I went about 30-40 seconds before I accidentally leaned too far back, and then fell backwards.

After Kelcey and I, only Nadia tried. When it was Andy's turn, he switched to the wakeboard. Man, he make wakeboarding look easy. After he did pretty well, I nervously agreed to give it a shot. Hell, I tried everything else, I might as well attempt wakeboarding, too. Andy warned me that getting up was the hardest part, and he wasn't kidding. I failed almost instantly the first time, but the second time seemed more promising. We got going to around 10 mph (my guess), and I finally got up on the board. That's where the fun ended. I'm not sure why, but I had a realization that I was about to fall. As I let go of the rope, the board caught in the water and face planted me almost instantly at what felt like a solid 15 mph.

After I finished huffing and coughing like a pansy, I boarded the boat and called it quits. No one else attempted it after me — I wonder why? We went home and rested up for the next day.

Saturday
Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and head to Wimberley, TX for some ziplining. It was a lot of fun, but kind of on the expensive side. Driftwood is on the way back, we stopped by Salt Lick BBQ for an early, awesome lunch.

After a nap, we went and got food supplies so my dad could make a Moroccan lamb meal. He slaved away for around 2 hours, and me, Taylor, Travis, and my dad ate his delicious meal for dinner.

That night, Justin had some of his friends over, so we hung out with them for the remainder of the night. My dad was a trooper and stayed up until close to 12:30 AM.

Sunday
Sunday was a relatively calm day, and for dinner we went out as a big group to Benihana. The group included me, my mom and dad, Taylor, Travis, Justin, Andy, and Kelcey. The chef was pretty quiet and mostly stuck to cooking, which was fine with me. Moses is my favorite chef, and in my opinion the best one at that location, but he wasn't working that night. The food was delicious as always.

Early to bed.

Monday
I had to go back to work, so I left my car with my dad for the day so he wouldn't be stranded at the house. He met up at my work, which is on the way to the airport, and I drove him the remainder of the way to drop him off.

It was a fun, action-packed weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

whattup y'all

I don't have a topic in mind to write about, so I will just let this blog entry be a free flow of thought.

My thumb still hurts these days. It's not in constant pain like it was when I first jammed it, however it's still healing and I hurt it every couple of days using it to do something.

I'm still pretty proud of my reading habits as of late. I'm probably borderline reading too much right now, but I figure it will even out in the months to come. As long as I continue reading I will be content. Since a couple months back, I have finished The Hunt for Red October, Kite Runner, The Road, and Animal Farm. Animal Farm was really short (a little over a hundred pages), so I actually opened and closed it yesterday in one sitting. I am now onto Mark's suggestion, a historical book on the revolution entitled 1776. It will be my first nonfiction (at least in a while), so I'm looking forward to it. You will also notice that on the left side of my blog under the links, I have added a couple of Goodreads widgets to let you know what book I'm on, and what books I have most recently read (with my ratings if you hover over them).

My dad flies in tomorrow, and we have a weekend of mostly spontaneity ahead of us. We have a rough plan of what we want to do — potentially go to Kelcey's lake house Friday, dinner with the roommates, go out to a bar, etc. — but my guess is that we will be playing it by ear most of the time. He will be here until Monday.

Andy almost got a motorcycle, but decided to be responsible and hold off until it makes more sense to him. Lame.

My room is pretty clean right now.

I like this picture and the girl in it.

See you guys in a few more days.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

viva las vegas

Truthfully, there isn't all that much to talk about Vegas. We kept to sleeping, eating, gambling, and drinking almost the entire time.

I'll go ahead and try to summarize the days anyways.

Day 1
We leave our house at 6:20 AM, get to the airport before 7, and take off at 8. The flight was smooth, and we arrive in Vegas at 8:30 AM. Take a shuttle bus to the hotel, and eat and gamble until our rooms are ready.

We saw this guy waiting for our room key. 
No, not Travis. Look behind him. He's wearing something like this


Speaking of the rooms, they are nice. Here are some snapshots that don't do justice.

Entering our suite

Taking a right into our bathroom

Bathtub + shower to the right

Toilet + TV to the left

Back into the room, here is the king bed + flat screen

In the next area you have the desk + phone + view of the strip

And here's the couch

I thought one of the coolest parts was that the curtains and lights were controlled via remotes. As we leave, we can just click the "close drapes" button and hit the "All" lights button to turn off all the lights. Oh and they faded in and out, too, which is a nice touch.

The remainder of Day 1 was spent gambling away all my money in blackjack and craps, and eating. It should be noted that except for maybe a handful of occasions, the craps tables were very cold this entire trip. I'm talking about a continuous cycle of hitting a point, then rolling a seven-out. Losing $10 after $20 after $30 every few minutes.

We gambled a bit more, then went back upstairs, got into nicer clothes, and then hit up Switch, a cool restaurant inside Encore where the walls periodically "switch" (get it?!). Now by switching, I mean they had walls that raised up into the ceiling or came up from the ground, providing different combinations of ambiances, including no walls at all. It's kind of hard to explain, so if you didn't understand that, then check it out next time you're in Vegas. The food was very good, but I regret not getting a steak like the others; I got a red snapper plate which was good, but not as filling as a juicy steak.

After food, we continued our gambling binge. I went up the room earlier than everyone else because I was bummed out about my losses and my still-nagging cough. At the time, most everyone was up at least $100-200, so I wasn't thrilled being down $260.

Day 2
Those curtains sure do a great job of blocking out any light, because I slept until something absurd like 11-11:30 AM Vegas time. That would be 1-1:30 PM Austin time, and for those keeping track, the last time I slept until 1 or later was probably college. So much for keeping my sleep schedule remotely intact, right?

Ate some food, and let the gambling continue. More blackjack and craps. The morning was better to me, I think in the morning I was up around $60-100 for the day. I needed a break from the non-stop gambling, so I decided to hit the pool and the others joined me at various times. They had a European-style pool, in other words women can go topless. Naturally, that was my pool of choice. More important than having topless women everywhere (which there were practically none), the pool was 21+ and there were not little kids running around screaming like at the other pools. It had a more relaxing vibe.

For dinner tonight, we hit up another restaurant inside the Encore: Wazuzu. I don't think it was as good as Switch, but it was also cheaper and more casual, too. They served different asian food, including sushi rolls. I had miso soup, some yellow tail sushi, and their Wazuzu roll (snow crab roll topped with an eel fillet and eel sauce).

More gambling and time passed, then we went to Spearmint Rhino to hit our strip club quota for the trip. Not much to say about a strip club, as I'm sure you know what happens inside them. One thing I didn't quite understand was the cover charge situation. We had two options: 1) pay a $40 cover charge or 2) let their free limo pick us up, take us to the back entrance, and pay no cover. Why the hell would you not take the free limo?

The night ended after the club.

Day 3
Day 3 was the best day for me in terms of gambling, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

We woke up, ate some food, hung out a bit, and I hit the pool again. One piece of advice I have for those going to Vegas is to find ways of having fun or wasting time without spending money. There isn't much to do in Vegas that won't cost you, and you can only walk up and down the strip so much before you don't care anymore and your feet hurt. My sanctuary this trip was the pool; I just sit outside, read a bit, lounged in the pool a bit, and talked with whoever was out there with me (mostly Blake today).

After a couple hours in the pool, we did stuff I don't remember, then eventually head out to old Vegas on Freemont St, which had Golden Nugget, Freemont Casino, 4 Queens, and Binions. This is where I won at Vegas. We casino-hopped between those four casinos all night, playing mostly blackjack with some craps mixed in, and finally my luck turned around. I came up on top on almost every table we played, whether it was $10 or $200. By the end of the night, I was up close to $400. Break-even baby!

The reason I had made so much money was almost exclusively thanks to the "$5 Yo" bets I would randomly make on the craps tables. "Yo" is another term for eleven, and it's a 15:1 bet. If the next roll is 11, you win 15:1, and if it's not, you lose your money. Somehow I managed to bet at the right time three different times, and each time net me $70. I won $210 on 3 lucky $5 bets - imagine that.

While we were in old Vegas, we ate at Grotto in Golden Nugget which was a nice italian place. I had some sort of shrimp pasta plate, don't even remember anymore.

The intersection between the four Freemont St casinos.
They built an arched screen in between the casinos where they projected videos.


Day 4
Last day in Vegas, and we had to checkout by noon. I woke up around 10 and started packing then showered. Once we were all ready, we checked out of the hotel and took a taxicab to In-N-Out. It was busy as hell there, as you would expect In-N-Out to be at noon right by the strip. From there, we took a taxi to ARIA, and walked our way north all the way back to Encore, stopping at Bellagio and Caesar's Palace on the way. Since I couldn't help myself, I made some stupid roulette bets and also played a bit of craps, and ended up down about $150-200. Oh well, what fun is Vegas if you break even?

From the hotel we went to the airport, where we waited a very long time since our flight was delayed an hour.  Landed in Austin around 1 AM.  Goodbye, Vegas!