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Category: "Events"

Visiting Arkansas 2012 - Part II

  09/24/12 00:02, by , Categories: Family, Events

Saturday, June 16

Since the wedding wasn’t until that evening, Molly had organized a breakfast in the Peabody for the family to all get together in the morning. She had to be proactive because when there’s no plan, too much time is taken to formulate a plan and too many people get confused trying to figure out what is going on. More family showed up than we had accounted for, but there was enough space for us all. Everyone seemed to really appreciate that Molly had thought to arrange the get-together.

After breakfast, some of us walked down to the Little Rock Museum of Discovery. Molly and I had been there when we were in college for an after hours Regina function, but it was fun to be there with her relative’s kids running around trying out all of the exhibits. I do have to admit that there were some exhibits where it seemed like Valerie’s cousin Brent and I were having more fun than the kids.

One interesting exhibit was a tornado experience. A couple of the kids dragged me into what looked like a shack on the outside. Inside, it was made up like a basement with a tv and a small window. Once you start the experience, the tv comes on and shows news reports of a coming tornado. This is followed by a bunch of sound effects, the “outdoors” outside the windows turns darker and trees fall. I think it was a pretty intense couple of minutes for the kids. After it was all over, Brent’s son sounded worried and told him that they need to get a basement.

When we finished up at the museum, Molly and I split off from the rest of the group and walked through the river market for a while. Molly ended up buying an African Butterfly hair comb, then we went in search of lunch.

We decided to eat at Tropical Smoothie since they are one of my company’s clients and I had never eaten at one. As luck would have it, we ran into a bunch of relatives and had lunch with them.

Molly and I took a nice stroll along the Arkansas River on our way back to the hotel. We found a piece of Little Rock along the way.

Me and the Little Rock (not in Boston)

We went back to the room and I took a nap. Then it was time to get ready for the wedding. I think we cleaned up pretty nicely.

Molly and I at the wedding

The wedding and reception were held in The Capital Hotel, a historic hotel situated across the street from where we were staying. It’s a very elegant venue with marble columns and stately decor. The ceremony was short and very sweet. The reception was long and rather delicious.

Sunday, June 17

Sunday morning, we went to church in Little Rock and then drove up to Searcy. We visited the Harding campus, marveling at all of the things that have changed and remembering all of the things that were still the same. We spent the rest of the day visiting with family at Molly’s grandparents’ house.

All in all, it was a very nice trip.

Visiting Arkansas 2012 - Part I

  07/02/12 23:42, by , Categories: Family, Events

Thursday, June 14

After work, I went to the Now, Now and fun. concert at House of Blues with some friends from work. Karl and I arrived about half an hour before the show started and tried to get as close to the stage as we could. Unfortunately, it was already packed. Mostly packed with high school students. I was definitely the tallest person in the pit, so no matter where I chose to stand I would have been able to see the stage. We did manage to get a good spot, but not nearly as close as I would have expected.

Now, Now gave a pretty straight-forward performance. I’m a fan of their music and they delivered it without a hitch. Fun. on the other hand, provided a lot of entertainment and energy throughout their set. You could tell that Nate Ruess, the lead singer, was having the time of his life. At times, he would simply stand behind the mic with the biggest smile on his face, soaking up the crowd’s cheers. There was a lot of audience participation; it seemed like a majority of the people there knew all of the lyrics to every song. The band did a good job of creating a setlist that included songs from both of their albums. They also did a really good cover of The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The set ended with an encore performance of my current favorite fun. song, “Some Nights.” It was a pretty great show.


After the concert, Karl was kind enough to drop me off at the Ramada hotel by the airport. Molly and I were going to stay there since we had a flight scheduled for early the next morning.

This turned out to be the worst hotel I’ve ever stayed in. It was stiflingly hot. Molly had the air conditioner on full blast and you wouldn’t have known it if it wasn’t making so much noise. The whole room was dirty. There were crumbs in my bed, Cheerios on the floor, and a dirty towel on the floor in the bathroom. We had reserved a king size bed, but were given two doubles. Molly mentioned the bed situation to the front desk when she was checking in, but was told that there was nothing they could do and two doubles usually go for more than a king room. Like that was supposed to make her happy?

It was too late to be fighting with hotel staff, so I opened a window to let in the relatively cool night air and tried to get some sleep on top of the covers. I think I finally fell asleep around 12:30.

Friday, June 15

I woke up around 4am to get ready to go to the airport and catch our flight to Little Rock. We were going to Molly’s cousin Valerie’s wedding. Running on only 3.5 hours of sleep, you can imagine I was quite tired. Molly thought I was upset about something, but I think I was just looking grumpy from lack of sleep.

When we reached airport security, I asked to have the pat down instead of going through the millimeter wave scanner; my little silent protest against security theater. It wasn’t too bad, but I wish we had a more intelligent security system set up for flight travel.

We had a layover in Chicago at the same time as Allen, Melanie, and Mandy. Molly wanted to go see them, but I kept her sensible. There may have been enough time, but I didn’t want to chance it and we would be seeing them in Little Rock very soon.

Once we got to Little Rock, we met up with Molly’s family, got our baggage and our rental cars, then went off to lunch. The girls went to a ladies luncheon put on by the mother of the groom, while Allen and I went to Cactus Jack’s Mexican Restaurant. It was pretty standard Mexican fare, which means that it was good. Since we were done eating a long time before the ladies luncheon would be over, we went to the movie theater and watched The Avengers. This was my third time seeing it and it was just as great as it had been the previous two times. Allen’s only comment after the movie was “Well, there was certainly a lot of action.”

We checked into our hotel rooms and caught up with some of the extended family that came to town for the wedding. We were staying at the Peabody Hotel, where their claim to fame is a group of ducks that live in the hotel. In the morning, they ride the elevator down to the lobby where they spend their day swimming in the fountain. That afternoon, we were able to catch their return ceremony to their room. It’s pretty neat watching the ducks walk down the red carpet and ride up the glass elevators.

Me, Molly, Mandy, Ava (their cousin Carmen’s daughter), their grandparents and Chuck Hicks (Harding professor and musician for the wedding ceremony) went to Copper Grill for dinner. The conversation was pleasant, but at times it was surreal - for instance: Mr. Hicks breaking into song about running over a cat with a lawnmower.

I ordered bacon wrapped shrimp and Ava ordered fried shrimp. When our meals arrived, Ava decided that my shrimp looked better. She offered to trade me two of her shrimp for two of my shrimp. I said that I would only be willing to trade one of my shrimp for one of hers. The next deal she offered me was one of her shrimp for two of mine. The bargaining didn’t get much better from there. She was determined to have two of my shrimp; one just would not do. Eventually, with some help from Molly, Ava realized I wouldn’t be giving up more than one and we settled on an even trade. Even though I picked out the biggest piece to give her, she later accused me of making sure to give her the smallest piece. I’ll tell you what: it’s hard to reason with a 7 year old. The fried shrimp wasn’t too bad, but my bacon wrapped shrimp was delicious. :)

On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped at the Taekwondo garden and relaxed for a bit. It was a nice night.

Molly and Valle

Mandy, Clarence and Ava

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Rock On The Range 2010

  05/24/10 07:28, by , Categories: General, Events

Rock On The Range: Where Rock Lives

My brother, Nicholas, was on leave for a couple weeks before getting ready to be deployed to Afghanistan. He and his friend, Garrett, came out to visit us for the weekend.

Friday night, I cooked some burgers for dinner and then we played Rock Band for a while. We intended to go to bed early because we had big plans for Saturday, but we ended up messing around with music until 11pm.

Saturday morning, we left the house at 7am and headed to Columbus for Rock On The Range 2010. The 2.5 hour trip there was pretty uneventful, other than the on-ramp for I-71 South being located a scant few feet ahead of a blockade and “Road Closed” sign. I also led a couple of concert-goers around the Lowes parking lot by the stadium because I had no idea where I was going and the three cars behind me assumed that I did.

After parking in a muddy field, we stood in line while waiting for the gates to the soccer stadium to open. It wasn’t too long before I wondered aloud whether we were in line for the field or the stadium seating. I sent Nicholas to follow the line up to the front so he could find out where it led. It only took two such trips to determine that we were standing in the line for the stadium seats, which was the wrong line.

Finally, the gates opened and were let in to the stadium after being frisked and tagged. We headed straight for the main stage and ended up very close to the front. Eventually, Sevendust came out and ripped open a can of hard rock. I found it unique that the lead singer jerked his head backward to the beat rather than headbanging forward like most people. It was slightly annoying that he kept commenting about how early they were playing. Though he did say that we obviously knew how to have a good time even if it was so early in the day.

Drowning Pool took the stage next. They gave a solid performance, and “Bodies” was the first song of the day to send the crowd into a real frenzy.

Puddle of Mudd was the next act. I don’t really like them, but I had never even heard of the bands playing on the other two stages during this time and Nicholas is a fan of one of their songs, so we stayed. They delivered the typical white trash performance I expected.

Next up was Papa Roach. These guys were really good. Unfortunately, we had to leave the main stage before their set was up because we wanted to get a good spot for Skillet.

Skillet is Nicholas’s favorite band, so they would have taken priority over any other. This was the only set we watched that wasn’t on the main stage (Garrett did watch Avenged Sevenfold Killswitch Engage at this stage right after, but Nicholas and I were off doing other things). I’m not a huge fan of their music, but they put on a great performance. The lead singer was engaging and they had the guitarist and bassist on platforms that raised and lowered which was pretty cool.

When we were heading back to the main stage there was an FYE representative selling Skillet cds and a chance to meet the band. Nicholas already had all their cds, but bought another one so that he could meet Skillet. While he stood in line for autographs, I set out to find a Skillet t-shirt for him. After searching high and low, I couldn’t find one and ended up getting him a Rock On The Range shirt.

Nicholas met Skillet and got their autographs on his newly purchased cd. He was ecstatic that he got to meet them. On top of that, they complimented him on his Breaking Benjamin t-shirt.

Next we saw Rise Against, who I had only become a fan of recently. It was a respectable performance and made me like them all the more.

The second to last set was Three Days Grace. This was my third time seeing them live and it was their biggest show yet. They had some cool pyrotechnics going on for a couple of the songs. The lead singer asked for requests and the whole place erupted with chanting for “Riot.” After messing with us by saying they wouldn’t be able to play that one, the song started up and the place went nuts. It was awesome.

We were basically at the front of the crowd for Three Days Grace and I found it exhausting. I got Nicholas to agree to move back where we wouldn’t constantly be crushed by everyone else for Godsmack’s performance. My energy was basically spent and I just stood in one place letting the sweat dry and the music wash over me. About half way through the set, I decided to go to the car and wait for Nicholas and Garrett to come out after the concert was over. It was loud enough I could still hear the music clearly from the car.

The worst part about the concert was all of the crowd surfers. I feel that they basically ruin the experience for everyone else. You don’t get to pay attention to the band much when you constantly need to be checking over your shoulder for bodies being thrown on top of you. I got kicked in the head once and practically straddled twice. At times, there was a constant stream of people that we would have to support which would tear our attention away from the band for a full song or two. I’ve never been to a concert where people were so annoying.

Regardless, it was a great time and I know Nicholas loved it especially because he had never been to a rock concert before and he liked most of the bands. I really enjoyed seeing Papa Roach, Rise Against, and Three Days Grace. Garrett was separated from us a lot of the time because he didn’t work his way forward the way Nicholas and I did, but he said he had a great time, too.

The blockade that we missed on the way down to Columbus was in our way on the trip home. We drove for an extra half an hour trying to find our way around it. We didn’t get back to the house until 3am on Sunday morning.

Molly got me up for church later, but I let Nicholas and Garrett sleep because they had to drive 5 hours back to Pennsylvania that afternoon. I wanted them to be well rested for the trip.

You can check out some of my photos from the event here.


New Job

  05/19/10 10:58, by , Categories: Events

I started a new job last week. So far, it’s been great. I no longer dread going in to work each day.

I think the following exchange is an excellent example of why working here is so much better.

Co-worker: The current system doesn’t do that, we’ll want to add it at some point. Management is probably selling that feature to a prospective client right now.
Me: They aren’t the “we can do anything you want in just 4 weeks” type of people, are they?
Co-worker: No, they haven’t sold anything i haven’t told them i could do yet, either. They check first.
Me: Must not have marketing degrees.
Co-worker: Nope, engineering. Not professional liars.

I’m still working in Cleveland, so the drive hasn’t changed. Molly is very relieved that she’ll still have me to drive her to work in the winter.

The company is a lot smaller. There are only 10 employees, whereas my last employer had 300 employees. While I’ve noticed some drawbacks of working at a smaller company in the past (my first two jobs were at small companies), I feel some of those issues are mitigated by the fact that this is a product-driven company rather than a project-driven one.

I haven’t quite settled in to my new job yet, but I strongly feel that this change has been very positive.

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Sharing Birthdays

  03/12/10 13:26, by , Categories: Family, Events

My family came to visit us last weekend to celebrate my dad’s birthday as well as my own.

Not five minutes after they arrived, my dad and I were in the crawlspace examining the air ducts. My dad wanted to head to Lowe’s right away, but Molly thought better of it for the time being.

So, we ate lunch and then played Rock Band for a while. My dad was looking forward to playing the drums, but I think they were a let down for him. He could keep a beat, but it was his own. He didn’t want to follow the directions on the screen. He took up the microphone and impressed us all with his singing ability. By the end of the afternoon, he was getting good scores on “Expert” level. Daniel ended up playing the guitar, simply because I love playing the drums so much. It was a lot of fun.

Maria made us stop playing after a while so that we would open presents.

My parents got me Lego Rock Band and Maria gave me a $1 bill from her own piggy bank.

Maria and me

Molly and I got my dad a John Wayne four movie set and Stratego. We also got him a card that plays “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The card seemed to do the trick because he ended up reaching for the tissues.

Dad opening his card.

Later that afternoon Daniel, dad, and I ended up going to Lowe’s to pick up a vent for one of the air ducts. We also had a new sink to pick up and I was buying a grill (Molly’s birthday present for me). Since the grill I bought was already assembled, we thought we would have to take off a few peices to get it to fitĀ  in the van. It was quite the production, but we ended up abandoning that plan and putting most of it back together. It turned out that the grill did, in fact, fit in the van assembled. By the time we left the store, we had forgotten all about the duct vent.

When we got home, Molly, mom, and Maria were finishing up a game of Candyland. It looked like they were having a good time.

Maria and Molly playing Candyland

When the game was all put away, Maria showed us her drumming skills. She and Molly had done a little practicing while we were out. She was pretty good!

Maria playing drums

I made pasta for dinner and we had cake and ice cream for desert. After church the next morning, we went to Moosehead Grill in Amherst with Nick Z and Mandy (who were on spring break) and had an excellent lunch. Then it was time for my family to head home.

It was a great visit and I hope that they’ll be able to come out to our house again next year.

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