Random Catching Up

Here are some random things which have been occupying my time:

  • My super Aunt Kathy passed away last week, and we drove to ONONdaga County to attend her memorial service. I was glad to be there for my family, and it was a nice service. An Irish style remembrance of all things which made her awesome with a great vegetarian buffet from a local restaurant they favored. It was tough to be sad with all these great stories about her going around, but I still managed. I was saddened to learn after her passing that she was a Buddhist. I would have enjoyed discussing that with her. I am SO glad that we were able to stop in and see her a few months ago on the way out to FUMN. I already miss her terribly.
  • Learned some lousy news regarding our property today… The (aforementioned) DPW lot behind our house is also getting renovated as part of the huge roads project in our neighborhood. They are turning 2/3rd of the lot into public parking, leaving the middle section as DPW (which isn’t that big of a deal except during this roads project; Normally they just store some snow plows there). Anyway, along our back property line (and the rest of our neighbors as well) there will be a bike path, and they will be erecting a 6′ fence along our property line. But looking at the area, I’m pretty sure they are going to have to cut down all of the shrubs and trees to make way for the bike path… Our downstairs neighbors are pumped about the fence, because it will block 100% of their view of the DPW lot.. But if all those trees come down we not only lose pretty trees but I’m pretty sure we’ll have nothing blocking our view from the deck… Such is the price of progress, I guess, and hopefully my assumptions are wrong, but I doubt it. They are also going to hack down all the trees on our street when they redo that.. So it’s going to look a little grim around here for the next few decades…. :(
  • Loving my new Macbook Pro.  While the Air was a great little machine, I had kind of forgotten what it’s like to have a balls-out monster laptop.  This thing screams.
  • Doing well with our "no car" experiment…  We’ve been without a car for about 6-7 weeks, and so far it’s been fine.  We use Zipcar from time to time to run errands or save some time on a trip to a remote part of the city, but most of the time we use public transit or walk, which is great.  For long trips, like to Syracuse or NJ, we’ve been renting cars from the local Enterprise dealer.  Even with the abundance of trips we’ve had to take in the past 6 weeks, if you add up the Zipcar, Rental, and Transit fees we’ve accumulated, it is STILL lower than what I would have spent on payments and insurance for a new car.
  • Going to NJ tomorrow night for the big summer party I’ve been throwing for a few years now.  The guest list has gotten so big that I’ve had to start removing names from the invite list, which sucks.  If you’re reading this and are upset, I apologize.  I tried to favor people I see less frequently due to distance on the invites, so if I see you a lot or you’re from boston, you might not have made the cut.   I plan on discussing some way to let this party grow a bit more for next year, but more than likely it would have to leave my parents house for it to do so…  Which would mean that the cost would go up, which is definitely not good eats.
  • Red Sox have been playing terribly for awhile.  That is all.

Even vacations regress to the mean.

Hawkeye Aftermath
Originally uploaded by seangraham

You may remember

or myself talking up our vacation to Spain about a year and a half ago.  We’d often say we got so lucky and had the perfect vacation.  Well, it turns out that even vacations regress to the mean.

We left Monday morning for Damariscotta, Maine.  Corinna’s boss has a place up there which she’ll be retiring to in a few months.  Until then, though, she’s only there on the weekends, so she let us use for a few days during the week.  The place was gorgeous, and we really enjoyed exploring that area.  We had some great food, and it turns out that Maine is rather beautiful.  We’ll post some pictures from my iPhone and Coco’s camera, but please forgive me for cutting this part of the story short.  It turns out, it’s not where the real action is.

Wednesday morning we packed up the car, Hawkeye, and continued on to Bar Harbor, Maine.  Our plan was to explore Acadia National Park, which has always sounded dreamy.  The beautiful weather we had enjoyed for the first two days, though, had given out and we drove up Route 1 in light-to-moderate rain.  After about an hour of driving, we found ourselves in Rockland, Maine.  In fact, we found ourselves at about 130 Camden Street in Rockland, Maine.  It was at this point of the trip that another individual, driving a Silverado, in the oncoming lane found THEMSELVES crossing the turning lane and slamming into the front of Hawkeye at a non-trivial rate of speed.  Hawkeye was rotated 90 degress clockwise and tossed into the parking lot to our right, and came to a stop.  The black Silverado pickup rolled into the parking lot as well, continuing to roll for a few hundred feet before stopping.  

Once the car came to rest, and I got my bearings, I checked on Corinna, who seemed to be in pain but intact.  She was saying her chest and neck were hurting, but mostly her chest.  It sounded like she had the wind knocked out of her, but she said she thought she was OK.  I felt pretty banged up, my knees hit something, and my left elbow and thumb got banged up a bit, but while my injuries couldn’t be considered trivial, it all seemed to be bumps and bruises, nothing broken or life threatening.  I couldn’t quite get my door open, but I managed to force it open enough to sidle out of the car.  By the time I got around to Corinna’s side of the car to try to open her door I noticed she was passing (or perhaps passed) out.  Her eyes were rolled back into her head much like the time when I had my appendix out and she fainted while I was being prepped for surgery.  I yelled for her to wake up, and she did, but was a little out of it.  Afterwards she would tell me that she had a vivid dream while passed out, but I’ll let her tell that story.  At this time an off-duty EMT pulled up and offered her help, and a seemingly off-duty fireman also showed to do the same.  While the EMT cared for Corinna, making sure she didn’t move her neck or do anything crazy before the ambulance showed up, the fireman tried to pry the hood open enough to cut the battery cable, reducing the chance of the car blowing up (or something).  I was pretty much out of the loop on this one, not really able to help anywhere, so I took the above photo of the damaged car and made my way over to the other car to check on it’s driver.  It was a woman in her 30s who claimed to have pulled out of a driveway across the street, lost control of her truck while it fishtailed, and plowed into us accidentally.  I asked if she was OK, which she said she was, and she apologized while looking completely terrified.  Everyone seemed to be skeptical of her story, but whatever, I can’t imagine whatever it was she did was intentional, so there’s little point in getting caught up on the details.

The fireman couldn’t get to the battery cables with the tools he happened to have in the back of his personal car, but quickly the cops, firemen, and ambulance showed and with their equipment the cut the cable.  Everyone thought it’d be a good idea if Corinna took a ride to the hospital to get her chest x-rayed and get looked at by a doctor.  They got a collar on her and on a backboard (which seemed to take 3 hours, but obviously my perspective was skewed), and I grabbed a few of our belongings (her purse most importantly) and jumped in the front of the ambulance.  Pen Bay ER was only a few minutes away, and they took her in while I gave the front desk her information.  After I finished with that they brought me around to see her just before they took her for Xrays.  Everything checked out fine, and the doc thanked her for wearing her seat belt and told her to take it easy.  Her chest was pretty bruised from the seat belt and it would take a while to heal.  We both walked away from that crash thanks to our seat belts, so it’d hard to be mad about our bumps and bruises.  Her chest still hurts pretty badly, even a few days later, and she’s having trouble getting out of bed and has to avoid coughing, laughing, and sneezing, but she seems to be getting better every day.  I know I can, at times, be prone to hyperbole, but this was without a doubt the closest I’ve come to dying in my life.  A few things go differently, and it’d be my construct here typing this.

After Corinna was discharged it took awhile to get the rest of the day squared away.  We were about 2.5 hours away from Bar Harbor, but we were 3.5-4 hours away from home, so we decided to press on.  First, I needed to get ahold of the cop who reported to the scene, as he had my license and registration (as well as all the information about the other driver).  The ER staff were very helpful and gave him a call and Officer Daniels came right over.  He had already prepared a little form with all the details I needed regarding the other driver, and even had a badass little baseball card-style business card, which gave us a laugh when we needed one.  He took some other information from us and was really helpful and comforting.  After he left I spent a bit more time on the phone with the other drivers’ insurance and Enterprise rental who came over to pick us up in the rental.  We stopped by the tow yard to take some pictures and get all our crap out of Hawkeye in the mud and pouring rain, and we’ll probably never see him again.  He gave his life protecting ours, and while our final moments may have seemed a little unceremonious and ungrateful, I know he wouldn’t have wanted any pomp and circumstance;  He wasn’t a hero, he was just doing his job.  

While I was transferring stuff to the rental, the husband of the driver stopped by to see his car..  He seemed very cool, and reassured me that they had full insurance coverage and they had already told the insurance company that the accident was his wife’s fault.  We chatted briefly and shook hands, I don’t think anyone felt good about what happened earlier in the day so there’s no need to hold grudges.  With Hawkeye cleaned out we grabbed a quick meal and set out, slowly, for Bar Harbor.  We arrived around 6pm, approximately 4 hours after we had originally planned to arrive.  It boggles my mind that so much happened in those four hours.  Upon arriving, I opened my MacBook Air to discover that it took some injuries during the crash.  It was in my bookbag behind the drivers’ seat, and the trackpad button got smashed and the case has been bent.  You can see the tops of the case screws pushing through the handrest in the above photo of Officer Daniels’ baseball card!  Fortunately, I’m hopeful that their insurance will cover this as well.

We did our best to make the most of the remainder of our vacation, but between our injuries and the rainy weather, there was only so much we could do.  On Thursday, after sleeping in pretty late, the weather was decent for a spell and we got up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, but the cloud cover was below the summit, so the only good views were on the way up and down.   After that excursion we returned to the B&B and rested before dinner.  Friday the weather was pretty miserable, but we still managed to tour the loop road that goes around the park and stopped for a few very small hikes and vistas.  The miserable weather and the tides did combine to make Thunder Hole pretty exciting, though.  This morning we had breakfast at the B&B and hit the road pretty much right away, watching the bad weather melt away into a beautiful day as we travelled south.  

Perhaps I’ll come back with more details about the non-accident part of our trip in the future, but for the time being it is really all I can think about.  Not to sound melodramatic, but I’ve seen the replay of that black pickup coming directly for us over and over again, and it hasn’t lost any impact yet.

Pay it Forward

Last year, at Matt & Casey’s anniversary extravaganza, we had a little car accident due to some really wet ice.  Nobody was hurt, and there was only a little bumper scraping which occurred, but the person driving the car on the receiving end of our car was very nice and didn’t even want to exchange insurance information.  We were quite grateful.

Last night, after leaving the CfA, Howard and I were trying to pass the Sheraton Commander hotel in Harvard Square, but there was some Fire/Ambulance activity in front. Because of the emergency vehicles, a MBTA bus, which runs on overhead catenary wires couldn’t continue down the road.  We got a green light but after crossing the intersection approaching the hotel we were stopped.  The cars behind us ended up "blocking the box" and were jockeying to get out of the way of the cross traffic.  The car behind me tried to pull up along side me on the right to get out of the way, but ended up tapping my bumper.  I could tell it was a fairly non-event impact, and seeing the terrified eyes of the woman who hit us in the rear-view, I decided to let it slide and just continued on my way.  When I parked the car I assessed the damage, and it was a small amount of paint removed from my bumper, which is already very battle scarred from years of parking in Brighton.

Do unto others, or something…


This has been a pretty intense movie marathon for me. Since Wednesday, I’ve seen 14 movies, with only one left to catch tonight at the Coolidge. By Sunday night I started to feel all that sitting in my back and eyes; I felt like my eyes were going to melt when I went to bed that night. I’ve seen some great films, though, and have only really been disappointed by one of them. My goal is to write a review for all 15 of the films over the next few days.

FUMN is this weekend, and I have to say that the back-to-back movie marathons might prove to be a bit much for my sanity. As long as people enjoy themselves it will be worth it. Hopefully people in CSH actually are still interested in FUMN and aren’t just humoring an old man. :)

Catching up

My birthday was bad-ass, really went above-and-beyond to make me feel like my birthday lasted forever. She had already gotten me Rock Band earlier in the month, which we’ve been playing the hell out of. She also threw me a killer birthday party, where a bunch of people joined us for a bit of the game as well as the final “Greatest Action Movie Showdown of All Time” between “Die Hard” and “The Bourne Identity”. Coco has maintained for quite some time that Bourne was superior, but we all know the truth. I think everyone had a blast.

On my birthday, Corinna got me yet another birthday present, a Japanese Peace Lily. Admittedly, I was unable to identify the plant on my own, but as soon as she clued me in I started dying. I got a bunch of other gifts as well, including a meat manual and a few more seasons of South Park from the fam.

Other than that, the baseball season has finally fired up. The Sox opened the season in Tokyo a week ago, which meant for very early games here in the States, 6am. To help celebrate the Great Day, I woke up at 4:45am and whipped up 40-sum pancakes (from scratch) and 3.5 lbs of delicious bacon. 10-12 people joined us in watching the Sox win. Afterwards there was Rock Band to be played and we took a trip to Kelly’s Roast Beef for the goodness. Sorry if I wasn’t able to invite you, but our living room is only so big and it was tough enough managing three electric griddles…. I was pretty much at the limit of my pancake fabrication abilities (18 pancakes at a time).

Tomorrow I’m heading out to Austin for the nuptials of Nate and Lilly. I’ve never been to Austin before, and I’m expecting it will be more enjoyable than that of my other trips to Texas.

Christmas 2007 Report

Here’s a quick highlight reel from the past few weeks. I’m sure I left out some important details, so please forgive me for the quick buzz:

Dad drove up from NJ on the 20th, and after a quick meal at the Halfway, I took the wheel and drove us back to Hopatcong. It was snowing in Boston-land, but once we got a bit west it mostly ceased. We made good time and didn’t really encounter any big problems. Getting home we were greeted by Mom, Aimee, Aiden and the dogs. It was the first time meeting Aiden and he was just as cute as the avalanche of pictures have portrayed him. Aimee and Aiden had to fly back to Tennessee before Christmas, so we celebrated early. Saturday morning we drove down to Grammy and Grampy’s neighborhood for lunch with them, and then returned to Hopatcong to sit down around the tree and open gifts. Everyone seemed to enjoy the gifts which were exchanged, and I got all kinds of stuff. I got a bunch of cooking-related books and items, which was cool. I also got a few more seasons of South Park to further round out my collection. went above and beyond and got me a Donkey Cigarette Dispenser. While I don’t smoke, I love donkeys, so this alone would have been an awesome gift, but she then instructed me to operate the dispenser. A pencil shot out of the ass’ ass (haha) and it was wrapped in a piece of paper reading “Good for One Xbox 360”. I had been talking about getting one for awhile now, so this was a real nice surprise. While it was weird to me to celebrate Christmas a few days early (and at night, to boot!), I soon got over it and enjoyed spending time with kith and kin. We popped in Christmas Vacation and dug in for the night.

The rest of our time in NJ was great, I even had the opportunity to make attempts 3 and 4 at “Mission: Kolach”. 3 continued the improvements I had managed with attempt 2, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think everyone else was more forgiving of it than me, but I intend to keep working on it until it’s perfect. But I was able to get the crust much less thick by kneading less. I’m going to knead even less next time and see what happens. Attempt 4 was somewhat of a disaster in my mind. I mis-measured the butter and added 8 tbsp. instead of the 6 I had been working with. I’m also going to get a second loaf pan so I can make a double-recipe. I took the original recipe, which made 4 loaves, and quartered it, but that left some of the measurements odd (1.5 egg yolks, for instance), so by making two loaves I can eliminate those weird measurements (which I ended up rounding up to avoid having to deal with it).

On Christmas Day, Dad took Corinna and I to the Newark Airport for our flight to Michigan. When we got to the airport we found out our flight was delayed by two hours. We went to the bar for a few drinks to kill some time, and while we were sitting there I saw David Zayas (a.k.a. Lt. Angel Batista from Dexter) approach the bar, I did a double take, but without mentioning anything to Corinna, when he stepped away from the bar and sat in the booth behind me, she saw and heard him and came to the same conclusion. We didn’t bother him, but we just silently geeked out in our booth.

We arrived at Coco’s parents’ house around 9:30pm, and much of the family was already there. We mostly just decompressed and hung out with everyone. The next day we observed Wigilia, and everyone was there. It was really cool, and it was fun watching all the kids open their gifts. The Wigilia meal was huge but delicious as always… I actually felt like I was going to explode. This probably wouldn’t have been considered very festive, so I managed to hold myself together.

We spent the rest of our time in Michigan visiting friends and family. We drove up closer to Detroit to visit Corinna’s Great Aunt and Uncle. Her great aunt has been ill lately, so it was important that we got up to see them. Afterwards we headed over to the Raz’s abode to visit , Andy, and Colin. We headed for dinner over to Game Works, which is kinda like Jillians’ used to be, an adult arcade with several bars. The food was only so-so, but it was great catching up with the Razzies, as the past few visits to Michigan we’ve had limited exposure. Their kid could easily be the “token cute kid” in a sitcom if he developed a catchphrase (although “I SIT DOWN I SIT DOWN” might be a good start). Also, I can’t remember the last time I was set loose in an Arcade, so I had a great time. Corinna and Amy kicked it DDR style a few times. Andy and I stuck mostly to vehicle games, although we did go for a few rounds in that Jurassic Park shooter. When we got back to Chelsea, we dug into the Pats game with Kim. The rest of our time in Michigan was pretty laid back and quiet (at least in comparison to having 19 people sleep in one house!) We had a wine and cheese movie night with Corinna’s parents and watched #99 and #100 on my video list for 2006.

The trip back to Boston was pretty uneventful, occuring mostly on time and after a short taxi ride to Watertown we were home. I turned right back around to go to the markets to get supplies for our New Years party, and afterwards crashed into the bed for a nap to recharge. Everyone came over around 9pm and seemed to have a great time. The party broke up around 2am, and while we had a ton of leftovers I was actually expecting worse. The next morning I went out first thing to redeem my Xbox voucher, and after some AV-setup wrangling (and a trip back out to Best Buy for a forgotten accessory) I was up and running. I basically played with it for the rest of the day… You can find me on Live as “dos burros”.

Total Insanity

This weekend was totally out of control… 

and I left for the annual Halloween Party in Dryden, NY after work on Thursday…  We made pretty good time, and listened to Game 2 of the World Series on the radio during the trip..  It was the first time I had listened to baseball on the radio, and I was surprised as to how easy it was to follow the game.  I look forward to being able to listen to games on Sirius after the merger during future trips.  We went straight to the Bed and Breakfast across the street from the Hammond/Gunther (or, as I have dubbed them, The Hamsters) household.  We saw the last inning of the game, and Corinna went to bed.  I joined the party across the street and stayed up far too late.   The weekend is a blur…  I actually even had a costume this year, it only took me 5 years to actually dress up for the big Halloween party.  There was a pig roast.   There were abandoned buildings.  There was

who is beginning his slow reign of the human race.

Sunday, after the long drive back to Boston, we settled in to watch what became the final game of the 2007 World Series.  I don’t know if it was because of my lack of sleep, but it was a real nail biter for me…  I was so completely shredded after the game that I nearly passed out.

I finally have a Mac at work.  This is a wonderful thing, but it will be awhile before I can really adopt it as my new machine as I am really busy on some contract work (i.e. the kind with really firm deadlines we have to deliver on) for the next few weeks.

Let’s Go Maize!

[info]coco_b and I trekked out to Michigan for her brother Paul’s wedding this weekend past.  Due to some airline BS, we ended up having to fly in and out of Providence, and we hit traffic in both directions, but especially on the way down.  Once we got there though, it was a very nice way to fly.  We got to DTW and picked up our rental, we met up with Corinna’s friend Michelle in Ann Arbor and had dinner at Blue Nile.  It was delicious all-around, but their hot tea was out of control.  After dinner we headed to Corinna’s parents’ place and hung out with them for awhile before her brother Fred and 5 of his 6 kids arrived by car from Georgia.   We hung out with everyone for awhile before passing out.

We woke up first thing Saturday morning to head over to Ann Arbor to watch the Michigan Marching Band practice for the big homecoming game that day against Purdue.  Corinna was part of the band, so she was excited to see them perform, even if we were unable to catch the game.  We brought her niece along for the ride, leaving the house at something like 7 in the morning.  The band practice was really interesting, even if there were some eccentricities that took some getting used to..    For instance, to rest their lips, lungs, and cheeks, the horn sections didn’t actually play their parts for several sections of the rehearsal, instead they brought their horns to their lips and sung their parts.  The announcer, who is apparently very loved among the Michigan community sounded like a Yuk-tastic morning DJ to me, but I guess I just can’t appreciate his grandeur.  We cruised around campus for awhile before heading back to the house to get ready for the wedding.  But on the way to the house, Corinna granted me a wish and took me to lunch at DiBella’s, who’s westward expansion has taken it into Ann Arbor.  How about moving eastward, guys?

The wedding was quite a bit of fun, with a short ceremony leading to a very nice reception.  It was great only only getting to hang out with Corinna’s family members I was already acquainted with, but also meeting several more.  It was especially nice to meet


who I feel like I’ve known for years now through LiveJournal but had yet to meet.  We stayed until the very end, and other than a somewhat creepy garter/bouquet throw narration by the DJ, it was a great time.  We got back to Chelsea just in time to see the Red Sox get beat by the Indians in the 11th inning.

Sunday we just kind chilled out at the house, and in the evening, lots of people came to Chelsea for dinner.  After a great meal, Corinna and I just chatted it up with her family and their friends, and eventually helped her mother prepare rations for her brother and his kids car ride back to Georgia.  Monday morning we got up bright and early, returned the car, and flew back to Providence.  All-in-all it was a very successful trip.  It will be nice to see everyone again in a few months for the Holidays…   Renting a car was also a genius idea, as now that her parents only have one car, and it gave us some extra mobility without bothering anyone.


OK, so I’ve completely neglected my journal for a long time.  I’m going to try to fix this starting now.  Here are some updates…

All of our photos are posted now, and I tried to put reasonable descriptions of each one.  If you want the abridged version, [info]coco_b is working on a shorter slideshow.  Our trip was totally awesome..   We flew, with [info]adamfletcher, out to Pamplona, arriving on Friday.  After a long post-travel nap at the hotel, we woke up around 5pm to venture out into the town.  We ended up at a Pintxos (regional name for Tapas) bar and had some snacks and a few plates, but we eventually met up with [info]rioma, his bride to be, and some other friends…  That was a pretty early night, so after dinner and drinks we headed back to the hotel.  Saturday was the big wedding day, so after a late breakfast we took a nap to make sure we’d be able to survive the wedding festivities…   The wedding started at 6pm, and we were told it might keep going until 4 or 5am, so we figured the rest would do us well!  The wedding was beautiful, although I found church far more tolerable when you can’t understand anything the priest is saying.    The reception was completely out-of-hand, with a cocktail and appetizer hour, 7 courses of the main meal, and then, as advertised, dancing and drinking until 4-5pm.  I believe there is even some footage of me dancing like a schmuck while quite intoxicated, but I hope my friends will hold onto that footage until my presidential campaign or something…

Sunday was the beginning of our proper tourism, and we started to explore Pamplona…  This continued Monday, and between these two days most of our friends who had come out for the wedding went their separate ways.  While it was great seeing all these people, it was also nice break away on our own.  We saw all kinds of amazing places in Pamplona, but a common retreat for us was back to the Plaza del Castillo, drinking and chilling.  On Tuesday, we rented a car for the rest of our trip and drove up to San Sebastian for a day..  Then we proceeded to drive up into France overnight, and then down through the Pyrenees..  We eventually ended up back in Pamplona the day before our flight back to the states.  There are obviously lots of details I’ve glossed over, but I think pictures speak louder than words in this situation..  If I talked about every town we visited, it would mostly be “X town was so damn beautiful, I can’t really express it in words”…

Corinna has gone crazy painting our place, and now all but one room is painted.  I picked a pimp-ass color for my office, I’ll try and remember to take a picture of it soon.