Remembering April

This week my furry four-footed great dane “niece” crossed the Rainbow Bridge. At some point I will have more to say, but for now, please take a look at this tribute video slideshow that I made.

Indiana, Our Indiana

Spending the first weekend of November visiting my best friend in Indiana. I have been having a great time. We went to The Comedy Attic on Friday and saw some great comedians. Yesterday I went to my first IU football game. Unfortunately Iowa beat IU in a nail biter of a game, but it wasn’t a blowout like everyone feared. Right now I am unsure what we’re going to do today, but just spending time with my best friend is all I can ask for.

On another note, I added a Google Latitude widget to my sidebar. Anyone reading this on Facebook should go to my blog at to know what I am talking about.

My Birthday Weekend

If you are reading this on Facebook, please go to my web site to read it.

This past weekend, which I consider my “birthday weekend” by best friend Neil flew in from Indiana.  For those that know me, I like to track the flights of my various friends, especially if they’re flying out to see me.  Whenever Neil comes in, when the plane is crossing over the border to western Pennsylvania, I leave for the airport.  The past two times I was there before or just as the plane lands.  This time since it was rush hour I was in the typical I-287 bottleneck.  About 3 miles from the airport I get a text from Neil saying he’s on the tarmac.  I try to call him but of course for some reason my car didn’t feel like seeing my iPhone on that drive.  Needless to say, Neil was waiting for me.  Driving back, somehow I missed the turnoff for route 1&9 and ended up on the Turnpike.  This turned out to be a happy, $1.10 accident since the drive back felt a lot faster.  We got back, had some snacks (cheese and crackers and some hoer d’oeuvres).  We chatted for a while and then went to The Den which I was curious to check out.  Neil had a few beers, being the driver, I only had one.  I took a little video from the club (see video below) we went home at around 1:30 AM.

Friday was a pretty open day since we had the club at night.  I let Neil drive my car (he likes it) and then we went to Perkins for brunch.  Afterwards we drove to Port Reading where I grew up.  I showed Neil my childhood home and gave him a tour of Port Reading and Woodbridge.  We drove down Main Street and went to Woodbridge Center.  We did some clothes shopping (Neil picked out some very nice shirts for me) and came back and watched 17 Again.  In the evening we went to The Stress Factory comedy club.  We got seats right at the stage (our table was a Ms. Pac-Man video game machine) and saw Tommy Davidson who was quite funny (and shook Neil’s hand after his performance).

Saturday was our trip to Philadelphia to the Franklin Institute.  Despite driving in a storm that was to give us the equivalent of the entire month’s rainfall in three days, the 75 minute trip was uneventful, with the exception of having to drive a few blocks to get back to the museum’s parking lot.  We got tickets for the special exhibit, Body Worlds 2.  This exhibit was absolutely great.  We also saw an IMAX movie called, “The Human Body” which was terrific.  For lunch we had Philly cheese steaks at the museum (too rainy to go out to find them elsewhere).  I wish our drive home was as good as our drive to Philadelphia.  Our first sign of trouble is when we crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge back to New Jersey.  The road we were supposed to take that gets us back to the New Jersey Turnpike was closed.  The GPS in my 2009 Honda Accord never skipped a beat and took us onto I-676 and a few slightly flooded side roads and got us onto the Turnpike somewhere near Marlton, NJ.  We were cruising up the Turnpike in the worst monsoon you could imagine but since there were no cars we were going at an even 65 MPH.  Then we got to one mile before exit 6 and we stopped…for three hours.  We moved two miles in that time period.  It later turned out there were debris on the roadway that shut down the Turnpike and caused a three mile backup.  During this time Neil got productive.  He did some banking, did a lot of research for AT&T U-Verse and scheduled an install for his new place.  He tried to cancel Comcast, but it is too early in their system to do so.  We finally get free of the traffic jam just to find that most of the roads in Piscataway are closed due to flooding.  I took a back route home which, luckily wasn’t flooded.  On a drive that should took 70 minutes, we finally get home four hours later.  We had a pretty good dinner at Pizza & Pasta which was a two minute walk for us.  While we had planned to go to The Den again that evening, we couldn’t due to all the road closures.  We watched The Watchmen instead.

Sunday was another open day.  We went to the diner next to the Menlo Park Mall for breakfast and then we went shopping.  Neil got some really nice clothes and sneakers and I got myself the most expensive (and most comfortable) pair of jeans I’ve ever owned.  We saw Alice In Wonderland (not in 3D) which Neil had seen before but was willing to see again.  We both thought it was a great movie.  We then went to Best Buy and Neil got Final Fantasy XIII.  For dinner we went to the brand new Olive Garden in my town of Piscataway.  We went back home where Neil proceeded to play FF XIII for the next 5 hours.

Monday was “so long for now.”  I drove Neil to the airport where we had a fast food breakfast.  Gave Neil a hug and at 10:37 AM said goodbye.  I look forward to seeing him again in Indiana and checking out his new apartment sometime in June.

March, Friends and Birthdays

Yes,  I promised a March posting and here it is.  It’s only the 12th and it’s been a pretty good month for me.  Things at work are looking up in a lot of ways. I look forward to the clean slate that will be presented to me soon.  Whomever said you can’t get a fresh start at work or at life is wrong.  While life may be the same, fresh opportunities await me in my career.  I look forward to what the changes bring.

My best friend, whose friendship, while not too long ago seemed to have hit an end is better and closer than ever.  I feel blessed every waking moment to have such a great confidant, friend, caring, sweet, fun and lovable buddy who is family to me.  Hey, I’m adopted (I have the best parents in the world) so why can’t the adopted adopt?  Said friend is visiting me here in New Jersey and is zonked out on the couch as I write this posting.  Should he ever wake up, much adventure lies before us, despite the rainy weather that is in the forecast for this weekend.

In a few days I shall have a birthday.  I truly do not feel 38, especially since I write this, I’m still 37.  I think having friends who keep your spirits up and is willing to go on adventures helps one feel young.  All I know is, this “birthday weekend” so far, has been the best one I’ve ever had and it is all because of one, great friend.  If you are lucky enough to have such a friend in your life, as the theme song goes, tell them “thank you for being a friend.”


As I write this post, we are a little over 4 hours from January 1, 2010. First, I want to wish the four readers of my blog (I count myself) a happy new year. Should by a quirk of odd luck and randomness others read this, then you too, I wish a happy new year. As one year comes to a close and a new year (and decade) comes before us, it is a time for both reflection and to look ahead.

First a look back.

2009, I admit wasn’t one of the best years of my life. In early January, one of my closest friends lost his father. As a friend who lived a large distance away, I felt helpless in trying to comfort him. Having (thankfully) not experienced this myself, I did not know what to do. The following week, when I flew out to see him (a pre-planned trip) I discovered that my friend was far more resilient than I thought. Though the focus of the trip was to take his mind off of things, I discovered he didn’t need it. Later in the year I saw this friendship erode and end on September 18th for what I believed to be forever (he made it quite clear to me that this was to be the case).

Professionally, there were disappointments, to say the least. March 3 will always be a day I wish to forget but will remember for a long time. I discovered a new side of someone who works at the same company I do, a side I didn’t like. When others were told, some were extremely surprised while others reactions were, “yeah, I know.” Also another person who is very close to me continued to feel the full force and fury of our economic downturn and I could do nothing but provide moral, sympathetic support. He is still battling that storm, whose end, while not apparent, hopefully will come soon.

There were a lot of good things that happened in 2009. First, and most importantly, my mom’s cancer went into remission. She ended her treatments and even got to do something she never thought she would be able to do ever again, travel. Secondly, my dad regained the ability to drive at night. My parents got to enjoy freedoms once thought lost forever and for me, I think that’s a great thing! We also got to celebrate my parent’s 50th anniversary.

I got to travel to a place I’ve never been to before–Chicago the land of Obama (yeah, someone named Abe is also from that state). Yes, I’ve been to O’Hare earlier in my life, but I don’t get to count that. Despite the rain and nasty weather I had a great time walking around the city.

I also got to attend my first Defcon in Las Vegas. It was my first “Geek convention” and I found it fascinating. In November I got to do something for the third year in a row, turn a “virtual” friend into an “in real life” friend, someone I have known for six years. This was, by far, the best trip to Las Vegas I’ve ever had and certainly one of my favorite vacations of all time.

One of the nicest surprises of my life happened on December 16. That friendship, that I thought was over forever had a rebirth.  Let’s call this “friendship 2.0.” Someone once told me, “fortune favors the bold.”  I got bold and decided to reach out to the friend and he responded with kindness.  While I wouldn’t say the friendship is the same as it once was, it is still a good friendship and there is no one that knows me better than he does. I know he is a friend whom I trust and value any and all advice he can give me.

Professionally, right at the end of the year something nice happened. No, it wasn’t from the person I work with, but a peer of this person. I got an “Award For Excellence” for a project I was on. That one, single act restored my faith that there are truly appreciative people at the company I work for. Until that time, I simply relied upon myself for motivation (though my support lead also helped a lot). I am a self-motivated person, but it is always good when others help out. I can only hope my “friend 2.0” person learns and masters this skill–let’s call it “level 81” to use a World of Warcraft term.

A look ahead.

What will 2010 bring? Your guess is as good as mine. I hope “friend 2.0” continues on it’s successful journey.  I wonder what a service pack would look like?

Professionally, I am more optimistic than ever. I think this year when March comes around and a “look back” is done it will be better than 2009. I do hope that despite the merger and a thinning of the workforce, I will remain with the company. My job is evolving and I plan to evolve with it.

If all goes as planned, 2010 will be the fourth year in a row that I turn a virtual friend into a real life one. I look forward to seeing my friend of 19 years when I hopefully travel to Milan in June. I also hope another friend of mine from a kingdom across the ocean will also visit, but if not, maybe 2011 will be the fifth year in a row (neat, a half decade of turning virtual friends into real life ones).

I remain optimistic for myself, my family and my friends.

Again, happy new year!

Las Vegas: The Sequel

My long awaited second trip (this year) to Las Vegas was last week (November 30-December 3).  The flights to/from Las Vegas were surprisingly on time (considering Newark Airport was involved).  I got there about 20 minutes before Derek (aka “Kared”) and by the time I got off the plane he had landed.  We met at the Westjet carousel and took the short taxi ride to the Excalibur Hotel.  Once we got settled in, we started walking.  With the complex array of crosswalks to keep pedestrians off of Las Vegas Boulevard (aka “The Strip”) it was like walking through a giant maze (and we were the rats).  We lost track of time and before we knew it, it was dark and we had walked from one end of the strip to the other and caught the Mirage Volcano show.

On Tuesday we went to a nearby Outlet mall.  The mall is owned by the same company that owns the Flemington and Jackson outlets in NJ.  Derek was very excited because of the deep discounts on clothes (Nevada sales tax is low and the USA does not have a VAT).  Discounts were as high as 70% off.  Afterwards we went back to the strip and had a good evening that involved some drinks, bars and music.

Wednesday we took it kind of easy (Derek was a bit hung over, I was fine).  That night we saw Cirque De Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio.  What an amazing show.  It was 90 minutes of amazing acrobatics, dance, water effects and acrobatics.  Afterwards we did some more walking around and some window shopping and checked out the Apple Store.

On our final day we took it easy.  Walked through the shops at the Venetian and did some shopping at the Coke and M & M store.  As the rodeo was coming into town we headed out.  Around 5:30 Derek & I said our goodbyes and went our separate ways at McCarran.  I know I had a great time and I’m pretty sure Derek did too.  For me, the best part was meeting someone in person who I’ve known online for almost 6 years.  Derek is as nice a guy in person as he is online.  I’m sure I’ll get to meet up with him and hopefully get to meet his wife Lori at some time in the future.

Here is the video I made of my trip to Las Vegas.  Enjoy.

Trip To Sandy Hook

Thanks to getting a few extra days this year and having a lot of dates where I couldn’t take vacation, for most of November I have been on vacation.  The date of this posting happens to be one of the few days where I am actually working.  On November 9th my friend Rick and I decided to take a trip to Sandy Hook, NJ.  In a month not unknown for snowstorms, we had a bright, sunny 71 degree day for our trip.  It took us about an hour to get to Sandy Hook and we spent a few hours taking pictures and video of the shoreline, Nike missiles and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse.  Afterwards we went to Olive Garden for lunch.  Below are two videos.  The first is the video I took of Sandy Hook, the second is an animated slideshow from the pictures taken with my Rebel XTi.  You can find the actual pictures via my Picasa photo album.

It’s September and Disappointments

I figured I’m falling into a trap of re-posting YouTube videos on my site instead of new content (that no one but me reads).  Well, we’re a little bit over a week into September.  Work, so far is going well.  I’ve been busy working on a trending utility with a co-worker of mine.  There’s some bugs that have to be worked out, but I hope to get it into beta testing this week.  Speaking of this week, it’s a full one for me.  I’m only physically going to be in the office on Tuesday (the day of this posting) since Wednesday is my normal remote day.  Thursday I’m remote in the morning and then doing a Technology Expo in Rahway in the afternoon and Friday I’m doing Habitat for Humanity.  Looking at the month ahead, it’s the high holiday season with Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur just around the block.  We also have our quarterly departmental meeting.

The month started off with three disappointments.  The first is that my trip to Italy scheduled for October had to be put off since my friend Flavio couldn’t get the time off.  The good news is that it’s not canceled, just “postponed” until maybe June.  After 18 years, what’s a few more months?  Disappointment number two was that someone who was very close to me let me down by first saying he is “80% positive” he’d go on a trip with me to telling me the following day that he doesn’t want to go.  Disappointment number three is the same said friend also promised to send me something that he knew I wanted, but in no shortage of words told me that I’m not a priority to him.  You can’t have a friendship when it is one way.  If he wants to remain friends, he has to give as much as he receives or heck, give something. While I am disappointed in that, it’s up to him to salvage our friendship. If he feels it is important, then he will make an effort. If he feels it isn’t important and not a priority, then I guess we’re no longer friends.

Life goes on