Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

March 7th, 2005

What an annoying experience.

Friday:

I was flying out of Detroit on Northwest Airlines Friday afternoon...well I was scheduled to do so at least. I had a 4:57pm flight which, though a 64 minute flight, was scheduled to land at 6:45. This would have given me time to get picked up from the airport and have dinner with my friends before going out.

Delayed.

Our new estimated departure time was 5:40pm. Not too bad. They sited heavy air traffic into Newark for the delay. Heavy traffic? Into an airport? Isn't that what they do? Aren't flight schedules made months in advance?

Cancelled.

The 5:40 delay was just a tease. The agent at our gate politely comes over the PA and tells us that our flight was cancelled and that we may talk to any agent other than her for help with flight arrangements; she had to get another flight out of our gate. We were now on our own to fend for a few remaining spots on a 7:10pm flight. As people run to any available agent at nearby gates I call the 1-800 number and reserve myself a seat on the 7:10 to Newark.

Delayed.

7:30. They are now talking about "conditions" in Newark. Everyone picks up their respective cellular telephones and attempts to confirm the weather report. Conditions? There were no conditions in Newark.

Delayed.

7:55. Now they say those conditions have been defined as "wind".

At this point comes the only quasi-bright moment. It is announced that they are bumping the departure time back to 7:30. As we board at 7:00 they tell us that the flight crew actually wants to leave early. I didn't know they had the authority to do that. Turns out they don't. We get on the plane and push away from the gate. And sit. We then, apparently, decide it would be a good idea to get a jump start on the flight by driving to Cleveland. I had no idea that Detroit Metro Airport had a runway that far away. We taxied for a very long time before we stopped. The pilot turned off the engines and came on the intercom. He told us something to the effect of, "they weren't really sure where they were going to fit us in on the flight plans and now it looks as though we're going to be able to take off at about...."

Delayed.

"8:25." We finally got off the ground and landed safely at 9:35pm.

Sunday:

I had a 6:05pm flight Sunday from Newark back to Detroit. Boarding should start somewhere between 5:35-5:45...that is when the plane is actually there. I do not fault Northwest Airlines.

Delayed.

The plane on which we would be riding back to Detroit was in Newark, well over Newark. They were not granted permission to land so we had to wait. This delay only cost me 1 hour...

Chevy Chase, MD

March 4th, 2005

Yes, this was my trip to Washington D.C., but we technically stayed in Chevy Chase. Chevy Chase/Bethesda/Washington D.C.? Doesn't matter to me one way or the other where we were though, this weekend was too good to worry about details.

Pat was able to take time off from work last weekend and pick me up at the airport in Baltimore (better flight times than either D.C. airport). We then drove down to Justin's apartment for the excitement to begin.

After seeing his place we grabbed a bite to eat (and a warm Mexican beer) at Chipotle. Stuffed with "gourmet" burritos we trekked, I believe, to the Adams Morgan area of D.C. for a house party at Justin's friends' place. Luckily we made it in time to part take in the keg of Yuengling prior to the 2 Natural Light kegs. Yes, it is safe to say that I miss being able to keep Yuengling in my fridge.

Pat and I had no clue who any of the people were at this party, surprised? No, neither were we. But as Justin is a social butterfly we let him roam the party while we took up strategic position working the kegs. Apparently parties in D.C. are like frat parties all over again. No, no, I am not complaining. Working the kegs afforded us the options to a) not stand awkwardly against a wall in the party b) be closest to the beer c) meet people d) talk to every girl in attendance. Good times were had by most at the party. I can't in good faith say that Justin had the best time considering he got beat at beer pong by a pair of 8th graders; what're ya gonna do?

When each of the three kegs was sufficiently empty we headed for a brisk night time stroll to the closest (?) bar to this house; 15 minutes later we walk into this drinking hole. I thought I was going to love this bar from the minute I walked in as I overheard a girl say to some guy (boyfriend?), "No, I did not sleep with him!" (mistake #1). Sure I should have walked away, but that would not make for a fun post now would it? No, so I say, "Wow, what an awkward time to join this conversation" as I walk past. She sarcastically says that maybe I should stop and listen to the rest of the talk then (mistake #2). So I did stop, turn and face them both and wait for the conversation to continue. Alas, it did not and she and I exchanged a few brief angry words with each other and she left. Then the usual bar events ensued: Pat wanted tequila and we got shot down by many, many women.

Tastee Diner stop the first was the following morning/afternoon for our breakfast. Afterwards we just killed some time back at Justin's before our 5:15 dinner reservation at The Capital Grille. Dinner was fantastic. I could not have imagined a better meal. Great food, great company, great stories, cheap wine, cute waitress.

More time back at Justin's waiting for a few more people to come over (Mark and his gf and Mapes). Then it was time for bar golf. This was my first experience with the phenomenon known as bar golf. It was explained to me as a glorified pub crawl, which it was but then much more besides. We were handed score cards with specific drinks we needed to have at each bar or "hole" on the bar golf course. Of course we made trip the second to the Tastee Diner on the way home. But all I want to know is what diner doesn't have mozzarella sticks?!?! Anyway, good times.

Maybe too good of times, though because before we went to bed at nearly 6am Justin asked me what time the Villanova v. Georgetown game was the next day. I confused it with the Villanova v. St. Johns game I am going to this weekend and told him 2pm. At 11:48 am my cell phone rings and Doug tells me they are all walking into the MCI center. Where are we?

"Umm, we're still at Justin's."
"You guys leaving soon?"
"Umm, yeah. Of course."
"You do know it's a noon game, right?"
"Umm, yeah. Maybe. Well, no."
"Hurry."

So we may or may not have missed the entire first half. But the second half was cool, and it was nice to see a Villanova victory in person.

Dinner before I had to be back at the airport between two good friends back at their place. Justin and I used to hit up the Chicken Friend Chicken at the Rock Bottom Brewery all the time back at school.

Yes I left out a lot, but it was long enough without the missing pieces.

It was a great weekend of reliving old times and setting the precedent for the new ones. It was just a great weekend, period. I can't wait to do it again...

30,000

March 3rd, 2005

Pretty cool milestone that today we surpassed 30,000 posts on the forum. Since August 31st, 2003 at 8:04pm we have had some members come and some go. We currently have 47 members registered, though that is an inaccurate picture of how many active members we have.

The forum used to have double the activity, but no use in living in the past. Today we average nearly 55 posts per day. I still have a lot of fun with this project, so thank you to all of you who post/read/keep it alive.

Here's hopin' for a bright future!

So, I slept on my couch.

March 1st, 2005

Yes indeed. I slept on my couch last night. It was not that I fell asleep during the movie I watched. I got up, turned the lights off, brushed my teeth and made the conscious decision to sleep on the couch.

The question remains as to why I slept on the couch. I was so comfortable as I lay there watching my movie, maybe it just seemed comfortable enough for the night.

This was not the first time I have slept on my couch instead of in my bed. It will most likely not be the last time that I sleep on my couch and not in my bed. To its credit, the couch is very comfortable.

Part of me also thinks maybe since I have been on the road so much recently that sleeping on my couch last night was an attempt to rekindle that "new homeowner" feeling.

It is not as if I have forgotten that I live there. The feeling I have recently is just that it is simply the place I go to sleep. I have not taken any time to really do much there of late (especially not clean). Even last night I went to my parents' house for dinner and then hung out with them until nearly 9pm when I finally made the trek back to my place. Got home, watched a movie and slept on my couch.

I think what I need to do is take some time and actually clean the place. Straighten up and take some pride in the way the place looks. Maybe then it will feel like home again. If not, maybe I'll just sleep on my couch again...

Scottsdale, AZ

February 28th, 2005

My trip last week to Scottsdale was an interesting one. There were a few new experiences as well as a few repeated ones.

If I chose to move somewhere south, I would not choose Florida. I would not choose Texas. Those places do not interest me. For some reason, I LOVE Arizona. Traveling to Arizona is not as bad in the winter as in the summer (2 hours behind ET rather than 3), but it is still tough to lose nearly a full day traveling when a flight from west to east is involved.

One of the gentlemen with whom I golfed for the tournament attached to our conference made a great point as we discussed vacation tips. He said that he vows to never spend his vacation in the air so all of his personal flights are redeye. Why lose a day? No need.

Speaking of golf, I'm happy to report that my foursome managed to win the award for highest score. Golf. Highest score. Yes, that means we lost. We were the worst team that played. I am not sure how their formula worked, but our score was not a good one when compared to the team that won for lowest score. Those guys got fleece jackets for winning and odds are it would not have fit me anyway, so the golf towel I got suits me just fine. And 2nd place through 2nd to last place all went home empty handed. You will not see me complain about being given a free towel from the golf course we played.

Here is what I would call the major difference between golf in Arizona and golf in Michigan. Let's just say that I am a seasoned veteran at finding balls hit into the woods. I may or may not have had my fair share of practice. Being the experienced woodsman that I am on the course, I put my head down and go find my ball. Consider my lesson learned. Using this same approach to finding my ball in the desert resulted in my walking into a cactus. Yes it was a small cactus and there was no serious damage, I just got stuck in the knee by a few needles. The continuing pain I had a few days later was ended when I noticed while drying off post-shower that I had two small splinter-like objects protruding from my knee. Apparently I had two little needles sticking out of my leg for two days and it never occurred to me to check.

We found a pretty fun place to kill a few hours between meetings. Garduños calls itself the "Margarita Factory". They have a Happy Hour from 3:30-7:00pm during the week. This Happy Hour is half priced margaritas and appetizers. It also features a little buffet of chips, salsa and various other Mexican snacks.

The food was great. The hotel was great. The golf was...at least a lot of fun. Hard to believe I was in town for work. I love Arizona. I cannot wait to get back.

| Forum |

The Liger

February 25th, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite told us it's pretty much his favorite animal. We laughed. We laughed at this ridiculous animal he made up.

He did make it up, didn't he?

http://www.mosnews.com/news/2004/12/06/liger.shtml

Turns out the liger was not a figment of his movie imagination.

The liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. It is therefore a member of genus panthera. It looks like a giant lion, with diffused tiger stripes. Like tigers (and unlike lions), ligers like swimming. -Wikipedia

(A tigon is the cross between a male tiger and a female lion.)

Who knew?

edit: This may unlock the secret. *NWS* CLICK *NWS*

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa - Scottsdale, AZ

February 24th, 2005

Link: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/search/hotel_detail.html?propertyID=1386

Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

This was my first stay at a Westin of any kind. I've heard legend of their registered trademark Heavenly Beds, but had never experienced one before. Having now spent three nights in one, I can begin to understand how they have earned the reputation in line with their name.

My room was not enormous, but was of a decent size. I was on the main floor of the hotel which may bother some people, but not me. I had a table and two chairs right outside the room for my use.

The bathroom was not huge, but was elegantly set up. Some hotels at which I have stayed recently have had cramped little bathrooms with no style. Kierland had a pretty nice setup; a nice big shower that I did not have to squeeze into next to a separate bathtub.

I did not have much chance to walk the grounds at the resort. My free time during the day was limited and I did not think I would get the full experience from touring at night. What I did see was enough to make me feel at home even though I was there to work. Stepping out back you are greeted with beauty. There is a large patio landscaped with palm trees and colorful flowers. There are many tables that have an individual outdoor fireplace and one large fire pit surrounded by many chairs. Raising your view you see a pond with a beautiful sculpture. Just beyond the water is a par 5 on the left and a par 4 on the right from the Kierland golf course. Beyond the holes you see the mountains.

We were spoiled in Arizona this week to see the incredible amount of green. The ground, the hillsides, the mountains were all green. The color was beautiful. One thirty year resident told us this is the most green Arizona has been in her time there.

The resort itself is expensive during the winder months. Another local told me, however, that if you can brave the desert summers the rooms are very affordable. He said that the rooms become an attraction to the residents of the area who just want a night or two away from home since the rates are so inexpensive.

No offense to the other resort in the greater Phoenix area at which I have stayed, but the Kierland gets my vote as the place to stay.

Funny.

February 24th, 2005

A guy I golfed with on Tuesday told me this one:

How many Notre Dame students does it take to change a light bulb?

5. 1 to change the light bulb and 4 to talk about how great the experience was.

Ok, so maybe I'm the only one who found that funny...

Irony?

February 20th, 2005

** Rhetorical **

What is the point of turning up the volume on a movie you're watching that is in Japanese with English subtitles?

It's good to (almost) be back.

February 17th, 2005

To see me sitting at my computer at night with a book on my lap is not an uncommon scene. There did happen to be something different about it last night. It was not something that was different for the first time, just something that was different for the first time in over three months.

My old regimen involved leaving work 3-4 days a week and going straight to the gym. Once there I would play 2-3 hours of basketball. Needless to say I would be good and tired by the time I then got home. Once I hurt my ankle, plans changed. I was no longer playing basketball and my surplus of energy found no release.

Nearly two weeks ago Wil dragged me to the gym and we played a game or two both Friday and Saturday. It was nothing exciting, but nice none the less to be back on the court. I could tell, however, that I was not fully ready.

Last night I let him sucker me into going with him again. After a quick lift I could no longer contain my anxiety to get back on the court. Unsure how my ankle would hole up, I remained cautious, but played just the same.

I had a few scares, but nothing serious. I came down on another guy's foot in one of the handful of games we played, but I came down flat on it. My ankle didn't rotate. I got lucky.

We were probably at the gym for close to 2 hours, and though it wasn't nearly as much basketball as I used to play I was happy. My ankle is not 100%, but it is nice to know that I can test it a little more now than I could before. My legs will be sore tomorrow, but it is that "I did something" sore that I don't mind.

Sitting at my computer last night I was genuinely physically exhausted. It had been a long time. It felt great.