Thursday, November 17, 2005

There was only one month that I was not either on a plane or a train somewhere in 1997-1998

I finally got around to writing about this. During the calendar year 1997-1998, there was only one month that I was not either on a plane or a train somewhere. Literally.

I spent almost the entire first six months of 1997 on the road in Philadelphia and in Washington, DC. I was home for Easter and Father's Day but was away the rest of the time.

I spent 65 days at the Holiday Inn in Washington, DC. The bill from that hotel stay stretched more than 25 feet long across the lobby! And thanks to Eli, the CEO of Holiday Inn even sent me a Thank You note later that year (as seen can click on it to blow it up).

While in DC, I did most of the typical touristy things such as the Smithsonian, the National Air and Space Museum, toured the US Capitol Building and got to sit in on a session of Congress, went to Arlington National Cemetery, saw the US Navy Band play at the Navy Memorial, and toured the FBI Headquarters. Went to the Pentagon but did not make it into the tour. Also missed out on the tour of the White House. Over in the Georgetown neighborhood, Old Glory was my favorite place to hang.

In November 1997, I went to Las Vegas and among other things, went on an airplane tour that buzzed the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. I felt like I was almost flying on the Manhattan Express at New York, New York and on the Big Shot at the Stratosphere...a ride that shoots you up 160-feet on a tower that's already over 1000-feet above ground-level, and you do it in only a few seconds at 4-G's! Had a very magical dining experience (literally) at Caesar's Magical Empire.

Went back to Vegas in 1998 for the opening of the Star Trek Experience, which is soooo second you're standing in a small square room, and the next second you find that you've been beamed into the Transporter Room of the Enterprise...truly amazing! I've been back there several times since then and still cannot figure how the hell they do that!

Friday, November 11, 2005


I dug out my pilot's license and went flying this morning for the first time in like five years (I was supposed to go a few years ago, but then the September 11th stuff happened and all flights were grounded).

A picture perfect day today and we could see the NH mountains from Boston! The straight-and-level flying was easy for me -- almost like riding a bike -- but I think I'll leave the landings up to the pros until I go back up at least a few more times. Hopefully it won't take me another five years to go back again.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Aerosmith at Mohegan Sun

While I wasn't a huge fan of Sunday's show, I wouldn't say it totally sucked, like a lot of other hard-core fans have said.

It was very cool to have classics like "Seasons Of Wither" and "No More No More" in the same show along with "Walkin' The Dog" and "Helter Skelter", and I am probably one of the only ppl who don't object to "Angel" especially since they don't beat it to death like some of their other songs from that era. The rest of the setlist could have been a bit better, though. I thought "Janie's Got A Gun" completely sucked, as I've thought just about every time I've seen them do it -- the beginning just drags on and never feels right to me.

I would have liked a little more interaction between the band members. To me it seemed like in the rehearsals, they worked on the songs, but not really on any of the choreography (for lack of a better word) -- almost like they need to be reminded that Joe and Brad typically do the catwalk stroll during the guitar interlude in "Dream On", for example.

But I am letting a lot slide based on the fact that it was first show of the whole tour and they haven't played out in a while. I am going again tonite so we'll see how that goes.

Lenny Kravitz kind of impressed me. I am not really a fan of his in general -- I don't dislike him at all, but I don't go nuts over him. But his performance was solid and he did a great job.

Pics (from my aging camera phone) are here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Factory Of Terror & Witch's Woods

Just in time for the holidays, the Factory Of Terror is baaaaaack. I went there last year and it was definitely worth the drive, so Shannon and I went there last night. I liked it for the most part. There were a few spots that totally scared the shit outta me! And there were also a few spots that were just so-so. But the place is big -- lots of rooms, with lots of dark spots where "creatures" jump out at you. Some of them will walk alongside of you trying to spook you and freak you out.

Shannon thought the "creatures" were better at the Witch's Woods -- we went there Sunday. Two of their haunted-house things were about average, but they have one that has all 3D wear 3D glasses and you see stuff coming out of the walls at you. REALLY cool! Their Haunted Hayride was also fun and they have a nice display of carved pumpkins.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans

I first went to New Orleans while on a cruise in 1995 or '96 (it was long ago so I don't remember exactly when). It was the first time I had ever been to a Hooters and I had no idea that would become such a hobby for me.

I went back to New Orleans in 2001. My family drove from Florida to meet me there. Of course I went to two more Hooters restaurants, one of which is currently listed as "Closed indefinitely" on their website after the hurricane. I kinda figured something like that would happen because I saw that neighborhood in the news coverage and it looked bad. The other Hooters location I went to on this trip (currently listed as being re-built) was one of the worst times I've ever had at a Hooters. They were downright rude and refused to pose for pictures with me until I spoke with the manager and told him that I was so disappointed that I was going to call Corporate. I wound up settling for a picture with a waitress wearing a long-sleeve shirt over her "uniform". I only needed the photographic proof that I was actually there so that was good enough, but it was a huge hassle to get at all.

Anyway, you can read more about that trip here and see the photos here.

Speaking of the hurricane, I found that the Google Map page has satellite pictures of New Orleans after it hit. You can zoom in on the Superdome, for example, and see the damage to the roof. You can see highways that seem to just disappear into the flooding. And you can also look at the older satellite pictures and see what it all looked like before anything ever happened -- just click around the "Satellite" and "Katrina" buttons to see what I mean (since there is no way to know how long they'll keep those buttons up there, you should check it out soon).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Deep-fried Oreos

Had some at Old Orchard Beach yesterday...who woulda thunk that there would be such a thing. For some reason they seem especially good when chased by a Dr. Pepper.

I've always liked O.O.B. because there is much to do, especially if you enjoy drinking. ;-)
The epicenter is around the pier and everything else sort of spreads out from there.

The Aristocrats

Go see it before it's too late. It is one of the rudest, sickest, grossest movies -- I love it! Check out the South Park version of the story.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Eagle-Tribune -- June 29, 2005

I wrote this that appeared in today's Eagle-Tribune newspaper:

There are ways to ease gridlock

I have been commuting to and from Boston and Cambridge for 18 years. I have been fortunate that most of those years have been outside of a typical 9-to-5 schedule because my 32-mile trip would easily take more than an hour using Interstates 495 and 93 (and that doesn't count the extra 15 to 30 minutes it takes for the 2.5 miles between my office and the highway).

Highway delays can be attributed to many factors, not the least of which are accidents and the sheer volume during peak periods. For example, many people may be surprised at how a modestly-sized hill can help to choke rush-hour traffic. While there isn't anything that can be done to flatten hills, drivers can help each other by maintaining constant speeds on the inclines. If everyone used cruise control and kept an even steady speed, you wouldn't see other people jamming on their brakes because someone ahead of them is losing speed while going uphill (and let's not forget the better gas mileage you get when you maintain steady speeds).

Drivers can also help each other by staying out of each other's way. If you want to go 40 mph on a major highway, do not stay in the left lanes. Just as excessive speed kills, so can excessive slowness. I can't begin to tell you how many accidents and near-misses I have seen when someone was going too slowly in the left lane, causing everyone else to suddenly swerve right to avoid hitting them. I am not saying that everyone needs to go fast, I am simply saying that we all need to respect each other and use a lane that suits our speeds.

Unfortunately, even if everyone were to cooperate with each other in a perfect world, there are still many more factors that are beyond our own control. Roads designed with lane drops tend to create bottlenecks — and if the lane drop occurs in conjunction with a hill, such as the Leverett Connector/Storrow Drive exit off of I-93 southbound in Boston, you're basically doomed to be delayed. You're also doomed at many of the major interchanges where there is a lack of accelerate/decelerate and merge lanes like there are in other parts of the country.

I've traveled to almost every major city in our country and have spent considerable amounts of time in many of them (often up to several months at a time in some cities). I've seen solutions used elsewhere that could help our traffic troubles here. I've seen the median strips between highway lanes used for express rail service (with only a limited number of stops along the way so they would be quicker than standard commuter rail service). I have also seen median strips used for reversible express/toll travel lanes (again with only a limited number of entrance/exit points), similar to the reversible lane known as "the zipper lane" between Boston and Braintree. Since the governments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire already own or control the median strips and the land between the lanes, perhaps they can look into using them for similar solutions. Yes, they would require money to be spent for construction, but they can pay for themselves over time. I know I would not mind dropping a buck into a basket if it is going to get me in or out of Boston more quickly.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Orlando, 2005

Went to Orlando two weekends ago with some friends. It rained every day and it was hot as hell. I mean DISGUSTINGLY hot! REALLY nasty ugly weather! But I didn't let that spoil my fun riding the rides...

Went on Mission: Space at Epcot (where a four year old died earlier this week). That was AWESOME! They make you feel like you're really on a rocket blasting off into space. A VERY intense ride. I was a lil lightheaded when it was done and I was white as a ghost, but it was well worth the experience!

Over at Disney-MGM, the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Roller Coaster kept breaking down so we never got a chance to go on that on this trip, which really pissed me off because I love that ride and it's one of two things I look forward to at that park. But at least the Tower Of Terror was working perfectly.

Up at Universal and Islands Of Adventure, the sign outside of the Hulk rollercoaster said it was a 30 minute wait. More than an hour later while we were still waiting in line, they finally made an announcement that the ride was broken, so that turned out to be a huge waste of time. We tried a few unfamiliar attractions -- things with short wait-times because of all the time we wasted at the Hulk, and they turned out to be great fun. There was a Poseidon thing in which we walked thru a cool refreshing tunnel of spinning water and there were a lot of special effects, a Shrek 3D movie that has added effects like blowing wind and water droplets and hydraulic chairs to enhance the realism, and a new ride based on the Mummy movie that is kind of like a rollercoaster except that it stops and drops and goes backwards and twists and turns. Some of the old Universal standards like Twister are still cool -- they do a great job of making you feel like you're standing in front of a real live tornado, and the Back To The Future ride is still fun but it's starting to show its age a little. The Earthquake ride is still a great idea, but I think they need to update it a bit.

I went to two new Hooters which bring my total up to 68 now (you can read more about Hooters here). There were two more that I wanted to go to in the area but I couldn't use the rental car that three of us split (and the ones with the car were avoiding the other two of us all weekend, so the car became kind of a waste for me) and I spent way too much money on taxis just getting around the amusement parks.

I wasn't a fan of the Disney resort bus system because buses were almost always late and a few times we were given misinformation by bus drivers that resulted in us going places we did not want to go. There was one exceptional bus driver, however, who told me about a huge pool party at a hotel down the street from ours one day, although I didn't enjoy it as much I would have if I didn't have blisters from walking around in the rain all weekend, LOL!

I didn't take a lot of pics but I do have some and I will add them soon.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

New York Times

Several weeks ago I responded to something I saw somewhere and wound up getting in touch with a reporter from the New York Times. We exchanged a bunch of emails and a few phone calls and they even sent a photographer to take pics of me (the photographer has done portraits of celebrities and politicians and has had many magazine covers).

Yesterday the reporter said that they liked my pic but then I got this from her this morning:

Hi, the story about people making fake cell phone calls is in the paper today, you can find it here:

I'm so sorry that it looks like your quote was cut at the last minute. I really don't know why that happened, last version I saw it was still in there. But thanks so much for participating, and I hope you still like the story...



Oh well.

New York Times

Several weeks ago I responded to something I saw somewhere and wound up getting in touch with a reporter from the New York Times. We exchanged a bunch of emails and a few phone calls and they even sent a photographer to take pics of me (the photographer has done portraits of celebrities and politicians and has had many magazine covers).

Yesterday the reporter said that they liked my pic but then I got this from her this morning:

Hi, the story about people making fake cell phone calls is in the paper today, you can find it here:

I'm so sorry that it looks like your quote was cut at the last minute. I really don't know why that happened, last version I saw it was still in there. But thanks so much for participating, and I hope you still like the story...



Oh well.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Be Cool

Chris and I went to see the movie Be Cool, the sequel to Get Shorty this morning. We knew from the start not to expect the greatest movie ever, but it had its moments.

We had to see it no matter what because we are IN in the movie. We were at the Aerosmith concert that they showed in the movie (you can read more about that concert and see pics I took from the concert here). Despite what they tell us in the movie, the concert was not at the Staples Center in L.A. -- it was at the Tweeter Center last year, so it was kinda stupid of them to show such wide-angle shots because you can easily see that it's an outdoor amphitheater rather than the indoor arena as they were telling us. But anyway, there were at least 16-18 times when Chris and I were on the silver screen in crowd-shots somewhere -- we were right next to a part of the stage so we were in a prime location -- however all the crowd scenes went by too fast to see us without using a Pause button or a Slo-mo button.

But enough about us. There were some other good parts elsewhere in the movie. I especially liked the performances by the guy from OutKast and the wrestler known as "The Rock" -- and this opinion is coming from someone who completely dislikes wrestling and hates "The Rock" in particular! But I think he did a really good acting job because his character was nothing like how you'd expect a wrestler to be...verrrrry gay. It was amusing to me that big-headed maniacs like Fred Durst (from Limp Bizkit) and Gene Simmons (from Kiss) were both extras who had no lines and less than like 10 seconds of screen time combined.

One thing that seems kind of weird to me is that a character in the movie who was beaten up with a baseball bat died in real life almost exactly a year before the movie was released -- the movie came out literally four days away from the one-year anniversary of the day he died. If I were part of his family, I think I'd be kinda pissed at watching him get beaten up on screen while that anniversary date was fresh on my mind.

All in all, I'd give it about a C grade. Or maybe a C+ because Chris and I were in it with our favorite rock band. :) Chris may not be so generous with his grade because he read the book and found lots of flaws between the book and the movie.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Better than nothing

I went to Mohegan Sun and won about $380-ish before I gave some of it back. I guess I felt badly for the Indians and didn't want to take too much money away from them? hahaha!

I started off winning $80 on the big (upright) wheel that they spin and you bet on. I think they call it the Money Wheel or Wheel Of Fortune -- many casinos have different names for it.

After that was about a $50 win on roulette which was quickly followed by a $180 win on roulette! This part got kind of weird because I knew that I had won, but couldn't really tell how much...when I saw them push nine big stacks of chips at me, I started to get excited and pretty much forgot how to do any math at that point! I had to call my friend Matty over to count them for me because I couldn't do it myself because I was too excited at seeing all those stacks of chips coming my way (oh and by the way, I won this by betting his birthday date...I didn't get shit by betting my own birthday or my parents' birthdays, but Matty's was a winner).

After that was a few hands of blackjack and a few small wins but nothing big. Then we went to the nickel slots and I won another $120.

When all was said and done, after eating and drinking and putting gas in my car, by the time I got home around 6:00 Sunday morning I still had $200 more than what I started out with...better than nothing!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Cabo Wabo, 2005

Just got back from Cabo San Lucas again. Wow! Shitty flights both ways and horrible airport experiences in Cabo and Houston, but it was a great trip overall.

This is a view from the lobby of the hotel. See that little hut-like thing in the middle of the pic between the two pools? That's a swim-up bar where we spent tons of time. Gotta love those two-for-one drinks during happy hour!

There are a lot of fun stories to tell but since they're at least PG-13 rated, I won't get into them here just yet -- what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo... ;-) But I will say that we met several really nice people down there. In particular, we met a cool couple from San Diego at the hotel. It turns out that Rob and this guy both went to the same college at the same time in Massachusetts, but they never knew each other back then. We went bar-hopping with them a couple of nights to El Squid Roe, the Cabo Wabo Cantina, and a few other places including the World's Smallest Bar where there are only six bar stools -- my house has a bathroom bigger than this place, but it's quite cool and it has a full bar.

Here are the pics from this year's trip and here are some pics from last year.

If you want to read about Cabo San Lucas in general, there is a good article at

Oh, I almost bad story to tell: one night we met some people at a bar at the marina. They had been eating a pizza and there were two slices leftover. After a while, the waiter came to clear off the table. Not even a minute later, I saw the waiter bring a slice of pizza to the table next to us. It looked like the same pepperoni/black olive pizza that he just took off of our table! To try to make a long story short, Karin (who speaks perfectly fluent Spanish) confronted the waiter about it and he admitted to it -- he took leftover pizza from us and served it to someone else!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Happy 2005. It pays to be a girl.

A few weeks ago, Shannon planted a seed... She said she's never been to NYC for New Year's Eve and since she is temporarily living near Boston now, she was thinking of going. I went there 10 years ago and had a great time despite miserable freezing rain, so I was due to go back.

She picked me up from work and we sped down to New Haven, CT to catch the train to NYC. Everything went well...that is, until we got to NYC. Once in Manhattan, it became increasingly obvious that it was going to be tough to get a good viewing spot. 42nd Street was gridlocked with pedestrians starting before 6th Ave. We fought our way thru the crowds up 6th Ave. towards 45th Street. Every street heading to Times Square was completely closed. I asked a cop where we can go to get into where the action is and he said to go up to 59th Street and they'd let us in there. We hustled our way up 14 more blocks only to find that we had become fenced in at Central Park. Completely trapped! They had successfully corralled us -- like a herd of cattle into a holding pen, and there was no way out except to go back where we came from.

By this point it was less than 15 minutes till midnight so it wasn't looking very good. We backtracked down 6th Ave., looking for spots where we might be able to sneak past the police barricades. Nothing. NYPD did a damn good job of keeping everything blocked off so no one can get thru. With about six minutes left before the ball dropped, Shannon went up to one of the cops as a last-ditch effort. Next thing I know, I see her inside of the barricade and running towards Broadway! She managed to pull-off a, "Hi, I'm a tourist from Ohio...please let me in?", and they did!! So now it was MY turn... I went up to the same cop and said, "I'm with that girl from Ohio who you just let in". He took one look at me and said, "get out!". I said, "no, really...that girl from Ohio who you just let in...we're together". He again told me to get out. I tried again..."officer, you don't seem to understand...I am with that girl from Ohio...we came here together...if I can't get in, we'll be separated and won't find each other afterwards". He didn't wanna hear anything from me. Just didn't care.

We wound up finding each other around 12:30 and by that point, they had opened up some of the barricades so I was finally able to get into Times Square. We thought about trying to get into some of the pubs and bars but we were mindful of the time and the train schedule so we headed back down to Grand Central Station instead.

On the way home from the New Haven train station, we stopped off at Mohegan Sun, thinking we can get a bite to eat somewhere in there. But those dumb-asses only had ONE restaurant open! The line waiting to get in was about 20 minutes long. You'd think that (A) being a weekend, they might have more than just one place open at like 5AM, and (B) it's a popular holiday for night-owls and drunks who may want to eat!! But nooooooo...only that one place open. Figures.

When I woke up New Year's Day, I watched the festivities on TV (recorded from the night before). A million people because it was the 100th anniversary of the whole ball-dropping thing and the weather was nice. Maybe I'll try again in 10 more years.

Here are the pics...they're not very good because they were taken with my cell phone.