September 19, 2008: TGI Long Weekend

63 Days to Baby Day! (31 Weeks Pregnant)

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” – Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Andre Morellet.

I had to do some quick research on this quote since it is often misquoted as: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  There appears, in my cursory search, no actual original reference document pointing to the more famous quote and that it is actually a bastardization of the original letter referring to rain and wine.  It is still a good quote regardless of who actually first said it.  I prefer the version without the word living.  The fact that there are two so common versions of the quote leads on to question its authenticity anyway.

The weather is awesome today.  Temperatures are not set to break seventy degrees all day.

Oreo and I got up a little before eight and went to the living room to work and to charge up energy laying in the sun (I will let you surmise which of us will be doing which.)  Because of continuing market volatility there is still very little to do at the office and today is promising to be a nice, slow day leading into my four day weekend.  This is, I believe, only the second four day break from the office that I have had since starting this position in March of 2006!  The other four day weekend was this past June in Walt Disney World.

During overnight trading in the foreign markets, the global economy seems to be recovering in a very serious way after a very rough week.

This morning I tested the new theory that yawns can be contagious between humans and dogs.  Oreo was sitting in the middle of the living room and I looked over at him and yawned right at him – fake yawn but decently convincing – and before I was done yawning he yawned as well!

Katie and I had lunch at Asian Fusion at 11 Stone Street in downtown Manhattan.  I had the pad thai.  It was okay, nothing special.  Overall the whole restaurant experience was not really worthy of lower Manhattan.  If this was a Thai restaurant in Warren, New Jersey I would not find a compelling reason to choose it over the competing Thai restaurants so it really does not cut it here in New York City.

The afternoon was pretty slow, as expected.  Today is the slowest Friday, actually, that I can remember so far this year.  It was great.  I was able to leave the office only a little after six – once I knew that there was not going to be any evening surprises.  Ronak and I were even able to step out to get some hot chocolate at Leonardis before the end of the day.  They have awesome hot chocolate on Hanover Square.

I took the train home and arrived in Newark around seven.  On my way home I noticed that 87 octane “unleaded” gas is just $3.29 per gallon in New Jersey!  That is pretty cheap after what it has been this past year.

I got to the apartment and found Dominica and Oreo asleep on the bed.  Dominica had packed up our “suitcase”, which is actually a duffle bag thing, and was exhausted and took a nap.  Oreo is always obliging when it comes to naps.

It took us until after eight thirty to get everything ready, the plants watered, the computers shut down, the windows closed and the car packed so that we could leave for our long weekend.  It is pretty rare that we leave Newark for four whole days.  It always makes us nervous in case we have forgotten something important.

The drive through Jersey had a surprising amount of traffic for how late it was on a Friday night.  We stopped at a McDonald’s along the route for some dinner.  We had been hoping to have been able to have stopped at a Panera Bread but we forgot to keep looking for one and bypassed the only corridor that has anything other than fast food and were stuck in our dinner choices.

Overall the trip was uneventful.  Dominica was pretty tired and slept for a good portion of the drive.  I was really exausted making it a pretty hard trip but I listened to quite a bit of IT Conversations podcasts that I had stored up on my iPod and when those ran out I listened to some of the “News from Lake Wobegon” podcast.

I also listened to a bit of the beginning of J. Maarten Troost’s “Getting Stoned with Savages” which helped to pass the time.  “Stoned” is the follow up to Troost’s really interesting book “The Sex Lives of Cannibals“.  In both books he and his girlfriend and then wife pack up and leave Washington, D.C. to live in the islands of the South Pacific (techicnally can an island along the equator be in the “south” Pacific – how Northern Hemisphere-centric is that?)

It was around two in the morning when we arrived at dad’s house in Peoria, New York.  Oreo was so stiff as he struggled to get out of the back seat of the BMW.  He slept soundly the entire drive.  My right foot, which has been having months of ongoing issues due to something rather like tendinitis, really hurt on this drive.  Normally driving does not seem to aggravate it but today it was really bad.  I was in some serious pain by the time that we got home.

Dad was up waiting for us.  We all sat up in the living room talking for what was probably close to an hour.  While we were awake I put an ice pack onto my right heel to see if that would help relieve some of the pain.  We have no idea if the issue is due to inflamation of some sort or not.

Boulder Golf

New Putting Green at Peoria Boulder GolfThis past week my father has been hard at work turning his ten acre lawn into a boulder golf course (or, as I like to call it “permutation golf”.)  The idea behind boulder golf is very simple.  Instead of using holes in which the golf ball will drop you use large rocks and you just have to hit the rock.  The game requires a greater degree of honesty as there is no hole to hold the golf ball and prove whether or not you successfully made the shot.  For really good players able to hit the hole from some distance this could be a problem.  It is not for us.

Peoria Boulder Golf

I prefer the term “permutation golf” as the real innovation is dad’s use of triple fairways from each “hole”.  His ten acre course, two and a half miles in “length”, is created using only six boulders and flags.  Each fairway begins at one of the boulders and ends at one of three possible ending boulders.  Through a series of permutations you end up criss-crossing the course several times as you work through the mesh of starting point / target boulder combinations.

At this point dad is working almost exclusively with open grass which is all “rough”.  The fairways themselves have not been made and he is not planning on working on that aspect of the course until next year after he is able to bring in a heavy-duty steam roller to smooth out the course.  One of the holes has a little bit of a green created so far.

We look forward to being able to play permutation golf when at dad’s house in the future.  If you play straight from hole to hole and do not hook or splice too badly, it requires approximately two and a half miles of walking to complete the course.  There are no sandtraps yet, though.

Vote for Andy!

Andrew West (a.k.a. Loopy) after having achieved a ranking of #4 in the last Dice Tech Challenge, is now one of the top two finalist in another Dice event and he desperately needs your vote in order to win.  Go check him out at:

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Andy’s OrbTrak web application tracks the current location of four of the night’s most interesting artificial satellites as they orbit the earth.  A handy guide for finding them for yourself.

Andy’s last Dice Tech Challenge entry was SpyHop: The IHOP Finder.