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.

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 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 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.

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!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

cough to vegas!

It occurred to me after I wrote my last blog entry that I forgot to mention that we're going to Vegas tomorrow, August 8th through Wednesday, August 11th. Six of us are staying in two suites at the Encore, a newer hotel by Wynn. We don't have anything really planned, except to get drunk, gamble, and have fun. I'll take some pictures to share with you all when I get back, but probably not too many. You know what they say about Vegas...

What's going to put a slight damper on this trip is that my cough is still problematic. I was hoping that I would be over it by today, but sadly I am not. I went to the walk-in center at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic (which I recommend for quick, unplanned trips), and the doctor gave me a prescription for a respiratory infection. Luckily for everyone else, it isn't contagious; luckily for me, the prescription does not clash with alcohol. When I arrive in Vegas tomorrow, I will be armed with a trifecta of doctor-recommended drugs: Claritin, Sudafed, and Zithromax. Hopefully between the three of them, my trip to Vegas will be relatively cough-free.

See you guys in a few days!

Recent pedometer counts:
8/5: 9173
8/6: 6328

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

the pedo is back

Wait, what? No, not a pedophile. I'm using my pedometer again to count how many steps I walk in a day.  I will be updating you periodically on my daily totals, and I encourage you guys to participate even though none of you have pedometers.

Yesterday, having taken the day off, my step count was a meager 3433. Today included our last kickball game and was a whopping 12784.

Oh, you're curious about kickball? Well, we only had 7 players and we lost 9-3. Not a great kickball season.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

cough cough

The highlight of the past week has been an incessant cough that just doesn't seem to go away. I haven't really felt sick, nor have I had any symptoms aside from drainage into my throat (yummy!). I've been told mold has been high, and that is an allergen I'm fairly certain I'm allergic to, so I believe it's only allergies causing this cough. Nevertheless, even today I am still suffering from the cough, although it seems to finally be calming down (knock on wood).

In reality, there have been several highlights in the past week. The main one was our house party last Friday night, in celebration of Justin's 24th birthday. We had quite a few people at the house, and overall I had a fun time. I was up until 3 AM, whereas people more hardcore than me were up until around 5 AM. I was surprised I lasted as long as I did, considering my bedtime is typically 11 PM nowadays.

The other highlight has been my motorcycle maintenance. As of writing this, I have completed the following tasks:
  • Disassemble and replace forks
  • Remove wheels, take to shop and get new tires put on
  • Tighten kickstand bolt
  • Replace sprockets and drive chain
  • Flush coolant lines, replace antifreeze
  • Replace oil and oil filter
  • Replace and lube clutch cable
I still have the following tasks to take care of, but as of right now my motorcycle is finally ridable again:
  • New brake pads/brake fluid
  • Adjust valve clearance
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Clean air suction valves
  • Carburetor sync
The fun part is that I don't know anything about a couple of those! Don't worry, though, I have a service manual that details every step.

Unfortunately, I don't have anything else to add (or more appropriately, I don't feel like thinking about what else to add), despite not having blogged in a week. Most of my free time in the last week has been spent doing the above, so really there hasn't been all that much. Remember when I jammed my thumb? My thumb is still not fully healed, but it's mostly better. I can't put full pressure on it, and there are some things I still can't quite do. I wonder how long it'll be until it's 100%?

Oh, and I've been going a bit crazy with the links to the left, adding links almost daily. Even if my blog isn't updated daily, you still might want to check daily for new links and tidbits.  You never know when it might help you with Qrank!

...and now for something completely different (fast-forward to the middle of the video)