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Category: travel

07/19/06 11:04 - ID#24652

Billy Bob and Earl in NYC

I am way behind on reading and writing journals - I forgot my damn wireless card at home before I left for my trip, so I've waited 3 days to by happenstance be at a hotel that actually has a traditional RJ-45 love connection. So here I am.

First of all, I heard a vicious rumor that a certain Manhattan resident by day/NJ resident by night is shooting me those evil chick eyes (you know what I mean!) because I have visited NYC and haven't been in contact. Allow me to assure you, mystery person, that when I get the chance I will redeem myself.

On that note, I did stay in the NJ side of metro NYC the past two days, but when I wasn't at work I was in the hotel room sleeping. Our travel rules have been becoming more demanding and more draconian so as a result I usually begin my work week extremely sleep deprived. I didn't get out AT ALL. We even ordered food in. On the bright side, I found a $120 per night hotel in Jersey that was across the street from a 20 min. bus ride to Times Square. The only thing that would have been better is a $120 per night hotel near a PATH train. Considering that I've paid more for shittier hotels in NYC, I think its a fair tradeoff.

I picked up our car at LaGuardia (pre-blackout) and the notorious traffic kept me waiting nearly an hour to cross the Whitestone Bridge. On the way bacy through I waited nearly an hour to cross the GW bridge... at 2 o' fucking clock. My friend that lives in Long Island City commutes to CT every day - after this week I don't know how he does it without sucking on an exhaust pipe. No, actually I do - its the FAT paycheck!

Ok - fast forward. I'm through with NJ and eventually drove to BWI to catch a flight. Flying out of BWI instead of Newark might seem extreme, but consider this - the flights were twice as expensive, Newark is a shithole airport, and my work day was 3 hours long. Taking a 3 hour afternoon drive on a sunny day to catch a cheaper flight out of an airport I like? Hello, do you hear that? Thats the sound of people stuck in office hell not feeling terribly sorry for me.

Have you ever heard of Yaffa Blocks... the stackable storage bins? Today I met Yaffa - she is a sweet lady and is a genius, but MY GOD was she neurotic. Goooooo Yaffa! This was the first time that I have visited a manufacturer whose product I remembered from old MTV commercials. Yaffa told me that it was cheaper to advertise on MTV than it was to advertise on "regular" channels. Anyway, her products were fairly cool and I definitely want some - if I had the storage space I would have bought some today. I also learned that Wal-Mart sells her products at more than double the manufacturing cost. I'm definitely paying retail to Aunt Yaffa - fuck Uncle Wally.

Tonight we are in Louisville, KY. Despite the lack of major pro sports, this is a very pretty city with a lot of economic prosperity. The state of Kentucky is simply gorgeous - at this point I've travelled to 35 states of the 48 continental and Kentucky, from a purely aesthetic perspective, is only behind California, Washington and Texas. We ate dinner at a Texas Roadhouse, and I saw a group of 9 (two tables, one for adults and one for kids) leave a TWO DOLLAR tip on an $81 check. What the fuck is that crap? General ignorance about courtesy and life is to blame. Lord knows that they have money left for cigarettes and beer! One of them looked like he'd been neck deep in liquor - I wanted to headbutt him Zidane style, except with a spiked helmet.

You deserve a final goodnight kiss so I will leave you with an anecdote about the most wicked redneck siting in history. It wasn't an orange charger with the "stars and bars" on it, but it was damn close. Think of an original 60's era red Mustang - absolutely beautiful. Then throw in a 120 pound white guy with a handlebar moustache and plenty of mulletude flapping as the 80 MPH wind whips through the hair. I was awestruck, like I was staring at a celebrity. The car at this point was like the bow, and the guy with the mullet was like the violin. One without the other and you cannot create beautiful music. It was magic. A guy like that must be pretty fucking cool, although he probably has shitty weed. Whatever - shitty weed is better than no weed!

Adieu.
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Category: travel

06/19/06 11:12 - ID#24645

NY, NY

Today has been an extremely long day. I got up at 5am to shower up and head to the airport for my 7am flight to Providence, RI. I picked up what might be one of the most expensive car rentals ever (if you count per hour anyway) and drove to Fall River, MA. fallrivahmaaaashavahdyahdchowahwhydidyouthrowthesliddietojetah. No shit - you guys know I travel and meet different people from A to Z. The chowd accent is un-in-fucking-telligible. Seriously - I understand broken English spoken by Asians better.

I left work at about 1:45pm, drove back to return the rental and paid $9 to take a shuttle to the Amtrak station. Then I paid $64 for a one-way train trip to Penn Station in NYC. I arrived in NYC at about 8:15pm, took the 1 to the 7 line and went to the hotel. I got to the hotel at about 9:20pm.

I actually kind of enjoyed the subway ride - our usual hotel in Long Island City and the super secret boutique hotel in Manhattan were both booked, and there is hardly any availability in NYC, so I was forced to stay in Flushing, in the shadow of Shea Stadium. It isn't as bad as I thought it might be - the neighborhood is more or less a Chinatown. The Mets were playing tonight, and there was a great view of the full Shea Stadium during the game as we rode past in the subway.

Honestly I am just glad that I am getting a chance to relax. Right now I want to poke my eyes out - the Canes are celebrating winning the Stanley Cup. Nah, I like my eyes - time to watch something else.

I'm not going to time for anything while I'm here, which sucks. Plus, I'm going to miss the US World Cup match against Ghana. (e:jason) you better DVR that shit for me!
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Category: travel

06/06/06 09:32 - ID#24641

No Name St.

Yeah, I actually did see a street today called "No Name St." Also another one called "Mad Anthony St." WTF?

During my travels I've been to a ton of Presidential birthplaces - this is something I've never talked about because I've never really pondered it before. Reagan, Nixon, Hayes, Jefferson, Harrison, Madison, Tyler, Grant, Polk, Garfield, McKinley, both Johnsons, T. Roosevelt, Fillmore (naturally), Eisenhower, Truman, Harding, Jackson, Buchanan, Washington, ... Nixon is the only native Left Coaster to have become President. I've yet to visit Hope, AR and to be honest I hope to avoid Arkansas in general.

Tonight I had an interesting and fairly atypical meal - German food! I've never really tried it, and since I am in Pittsburgh with my co-worker we decided to go to the place where he worked while he was in culinary school - Penn Brewery. The food was completely authentic. I had something called the "Butcher's Plate," or if you want to be fancy about it (and the people at Penn love their German language on the menu) its "schlachtplatte." Grilled bratwurst, a smoked 6 oz. porkchop and true weiner schnitzel, with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. It was delicious but way too heavy. I ordered it because I didn't want to try to pronounce "malzmeistersteak mit schwarzbiersosse" or "HÜHNERBRUST mit johannisbiersosse." In any case, it was good but I don't see how anybody could eat that daily without feeling their arteries harden.

The beers there are very high grade and excellent - the Weizen is a former Great American Beer Festival Gold Medalist, as well as a 4-time consecutive Grand Champion at the United States Beer Tasting Championship, so you knows your boy Joshy picked up a 12er to go!

And finally - tech guys, I thought of something kind of cool that I wish I could implement and I want you to tell me level of impossibility with both ideas.

First idea - I thought it would be cool to be able to set up a webcam remotely and set the cam on the dash of my rental car as I drive during my travels. I'd also like to track remotely via GPS tech or something similar my movements real-time on a map on the site. This seems difficult and expensive. The remote live cam has been done before but I have yet to hear of something similar being done remotely all over the USA.

Second idea - I wanted to have a digital map of the USA on a web site and mark each place I've visited, my flight paths for all of my flights, and if possible, trace all the routes I've driven. I kind of like this idea better than the other. I suppose this could be drawn but I'd rather have something more interactive - hover over a place and a little info box pops up with names and dates. Same with the airports - hover over a city and see when and where I've flown in from and to from that airport.
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Category: travel

05/23/06 04:22 - ID#24639

Etc.

Now I'm in Lynchburg, VA - home of Jerry Fallwell and Liberty University. I didn't expect so many restaurants and what not.

Cheapest gas I've seen so far - $2.55 Roanoke, VA.

Um not much else. I'm just tired.
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Category: travel

05/03/06 09:14 - ID#24635

California

It seems like every time I visit Los Angeles my feelings about this place grow stronger. It has a lot to do with economic prosperity, attitudes, what you make of places, what you might leave behind, what you might gain. I've decided that one day soon I'm going to shed my skin and migrate west. I haven't been this certain about something in a long time.

Today it hit me that leaving Buffalo is and should be a real prospect for me. I've always said that if I can stay in Buffalo I will, but my perspective is changing. I love Buffalo, even with all of its problems - don't get me wrong. Moving onward and upward is the only thing on my mind lately, and I've grown to adore many places in the USA. California is #1 by a long shot, and it seems like choosing somewhere else to make my next step in would be nothing but a compromise.

I absolutely love this place - maybe I won't end up in LA, maybe somewhere else in this state. I travel enough to know that just getting a new perspective someone else is intoxicating, but I've already been through this before. I haven't wanted something badly enough to fight for it for a long, long time - its a strange feeling. Whatever it takes, I'm coming here for good.

I wish I could share how I feel right now.
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Category: travel

05/01/06 12:16 - ID#24634

Jason

(e:jason) - Do not fret I am sending your charger overnight from California. Check your e-mail and look for details- I didn't put that thing in my bag this time, I swear!! I didn't even realize I had it.

Anyhow, I arrived in Los Angeles late Friday night local time, and had MAJOR drama getting a rental. Finally that stuff got fixed, and it was midnight by the time I was on the freeway heading to my buddy's place.

I had the best weekend I've had in a looong time. My buddy is "sympathetic to the cause" and knows a guy with a prescription card, so we were treated to a sack of the finest medicinal grade shit out there - it was a cross between Wreck and J-27. You just can't find that kind of thing on the east coast - it was amazing. The pot had a very sweet and clean taste - it has a linen cinnamon flavor, completely clean and extremely tastey. My bud had some Sour Diesel this week before I came... which if you are a serious stoner you may recognize that strand as some of the most potent, most popular and most expensive strains of chronic out there. I also smoked out of a vaporizer for the first time, and I have to say that I can't wait until I get one of my own.

We basically drove around L.A. Saturday running errands, which was great because I got to drive around the area and get a feel for how to get around L.A. proper. Traffic here is bad but its not completely unmanageable if you have a little local knowledge and have a reasonable understanding of where you are.

We went to Venice Beach, where I scored some beautiful pics and a new hippie-esque ashtray for my room. Venice Beach is interesting - its basically a gigantic boardwalk filled with restaurants, knick knack shops and about 10 head shops. Theres a large green area where you can sit under a palm tree and just enjoy the sun and the breeze. It was completely relaxing; I could have taken a 3-hour nap out there.

From there we went to Malibu - I have to say that I've never seen such a concentration of over the top wealth in my entire life. If there was a hillside or mountainside with ocean views, you'd see it completely peppered with $15-$25 million homes. The level of wealth was obscene. The views however were amazing - there is a public yet private beach out there that you can access off of PCH by walking down a path, so we went down. I got some of the most jaw droppingly amazing pictures I've ever taken. I got some absolutely gorgeous shots of the Malibu area - beach, water, some super fancy homes - once I have the proper cable for the camera I will share with you all.

Today we went to Amoeba Music - some of the San Fran contingent may have been to the one in Berkeley or San Fran proper. Freaking amazing music store - I picked up a new DJ Shadow mix and a compliation of 60's and 70's soul and jazz from the 60's and 70's era.

Anyhow thats about it! I got to watch the Sabres game live here on the west coast too - which I have to say was amazing to be able to see the Sabres play while I was here. I'll be going to watch the game on Tuesday, enjoy some more friendly company and eventually I'll be heading home Thursday night. I'll update if anything interesting comes up.
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Category: travel

04/26/06 11:18 - ID#24633

Another roadie!

6AM flight to JFK, $48 cab ride that took 1.5 hours, and finally arrived to work. Flight out of LaGuardia to Midway in Chicago and here I am. Friday night I'll be in Los Angeles.

Tony Snow is now the White House Press Secretary, which I think is an interesting transition. Of course, there are swarms of pleibes out there frothing at the mouth saying "of course, he worked for Fox News" but, as said pleibes naturally don't know a damn thing about the subject matter, they wouldn't realize that he's been a sharp critic of the president.

If you've been paying attention at all to local politics lately you'd know that Joel Giambra has been advocating the legalization of *some* narcotics. Anybody that knows me knows how I feel about it - we should be doing this shit like Amsterdam does. I'm not talking about cocaine or its derivatives... marijuana only. I believe that if marijuana should be illegal than so should alcohol, as alcohol has been the cause of more social ills than marijuana ever, ever has. I have no idea why Giambra broke this one out - its completely out of left field. He is teaming up with a group called LEAP - former and current law enforcement and judges who believe that controlled legalization of certain drugs will actually help law enforcement by lowering crime. In all honesty I'm split on whether or not we'll see legalization in my lifetime.
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Category: travel

04/06/06 09:06 - ID#24623

Jersey, biotch!

For serious - Jersey fucking suuuucks. The northern part of the state is basically a NYC suburb, and the southern part of the state is a Philly suburb. Not to mention that the state happens to have two of the most dangerous, rife with crime and violent cities in America - Newark and Camden. Tonight I'm slummin' it in Cherry Hill, which actually is a fairly nice 'burb.

(e:jason) - its not your counselors fault that you were late, and justifying your bad behavior by pointing out theirs isn't an excuse either. Just don't be late places... and this goes for everybody, not just poor Jay here. Tardiness is ridiculous.

2006 has turned out thus far to be one of my most reclusive years ever. I've been like J.D. Salinger... without the literary talent. I've been busy though. I actually audited in Buffalo for the first time yesterday - we audited the Olmstead Center for the Visually Impaired. I have to say, they revamped their entire building and its absolutely beautiful. My only problem with the place is that there are very few actual blind people that use the building, and its alleged purpose is to service the visually impaired community. I did get to meet and interview some blind folks though - one lady actually sews vests! Alot of the stories I heard were inspirational, and for me anyhow, its a reminder that I'm lucky. I didn't come from wealth, but I am wealthy in a lot of other ways that some people were not so lucky with. I actually grabbed a donation leaflet and put it in my travel bag because it had an absolutely killer quote in it -

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

From this point on when I am upset about my job, or upset about whatever... I'll have the leaflet in my bag to remind me of the quote and the workers I met at the Olmstead Center.

Today I led an audit team at a glass manufacturer here in NJ - 2.5 million square feet. Massive facility. Glass making is dirty and dangerous... for the first time I was required to put on some reinforced footwear. For every 3M that I visit, I have a place like this usually. It was cool though - having tons of molten glass a few feet away from you, with open flames burning everywhere is about as close to hell on earth as you can get.
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Category: travel

03/14/06 11:41 - ID#24615

Hubba Hubba

Rachel Ray, will you marry me?

image

Today was a good day. We worked in East New York, Brooklyn. Thugalicious for sure, but it was cool - the facility we visited had this crazy $8 million dollar printer/bag maker. Its sad when you can go to Wal-Mart, randomly pick out items and say, "Yeah, I was there and saw this being made."' The company we visited today makes the plastic bags that other companies use to package their stuff - socks, etc. - you get the idea. The manager we worked with even hooked us up with a ride to the subway in his Mercedes-Benz CL500 coupe - VERY nice car. He told us that if he didn't have another appointment he would have driven us all the way to Penn Station... which I would have absolutely loved.

After work we took the 3 line in Brooklyn to Penn Station then took an Amtrak train to Stamford, CT. It was my first time taking a regional train, and I have to say that its more enjoyable than flying. Its almost just like flying, actually; there are many similarities and you almost feel like you're in a plane. Except for the view, of course. As far as the traveling experience, overall if you ask me its far more enjoyable than being in a plane. The seats are larger with more legroom and are more comfortable, each double seat section has a 120v jack if you want to monkey with your laptop and not worry about battery life, theres a snack car, and also another car with cafeteria-style seating. Theres also a business class section, but I didn't bother. Overall, after countless flying hours, I have to say that after my first ride in a train I wish that airplane travel was more like train travel.

For you wrasslin' fans, we drove right by the WWE headquarters! My first impression of Connecticut is that its full of blueblood, snooty, extremely rich people. Which is probably true for all of New England but still, the area is beautiful. After work tomorrow we go back to Stamford and take another train to BWI airport, then drive to Dover, DE for the night. Then the next day, we work in DE, come back to Baltimore for a short revisit then fly back home... all the same day.

I talk a lot of shit about NYC, but theres something about the place that I love. Could I live there? I'm still not sure, but I know that I'm more accepting of the idea now than I was 5 years ago.

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Category: travel

03/14/06 01:35 - ID#24614

Astoria = great

Hey peeps -

I got a chance to see my college buddies tonight in Queens - we hung out in Astoria and had a couple pints. It was very nice to be able to see some old but dear friends. Astoria is definitely one of the places I could imagine living in if I ever moved to NYC.

Anyhow, thats it!
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mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

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OMG welcome!...

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