Sunday, April 29, 2007

My new whip

I got a new car this week. It's sick, and I've been ghostriding all weekend. But rather than talking about the new one, I thought it would be more fun to talk about my first car: the much lauded 1985 Toyota Camry that drove the ladies crazy. I'm talking Boy Band crazy. Picture every episode of MTV Cribs, and then think the opposite.

I was handed down the Camry sometime in the year 2000, passed on from my dad. To start with, it was a stick - which I had no clue how to operate. The closest I'd been to a stick shift was episodes of Knight Rider. My dad gave me a 20 minute lesson in a local parking lot, and then we somehow determined I was ready to drive it (!?). This was the kind of preparation Danny Tanner would have given DJ (DeeJay?) on an episode of Full House - and then assume everything would be fine. Comedy ensues.

The Camry's most endearing feature was that the driver's door handle did not work. This was a sweet little trick for picking up women at the time, because the only way into the car was to go in through the passenger door. So, when I walk around and open up the passenger door - said lady immediately thinks I'm some sort of an old fashioned gentleman. This image immediately fades when I awkwardly get in first and jump across to the driver's seat. I always enjoyed that awkward moment where she realized...."oh, k, riiiiiight." It was Dukes of Hazard in reverse. I'm still shocked I was able to maintain regularly steady girlfriends the whole time I drove it.

Another fun little feature was that the heater didn't work - so any drive from November to February was pretty much limited to 20 minutes before frostbite set in. Nothing says hoop-dee like numb toes and ice crystals on the dash.

I once got pulled over by a cop for having a tail light out. In addition to the door not working, the driver's window also couldn't roll down. So when he came up to the window, I just had to yell at him through the glass:

"The window doesn't work!! I'm sorry officer!"

"Son, could you step out of the car?"

"Yeah, I can...sorta, but the door doesn't work either! (still shouting through the window) So I'll just crawl around!" (I kind of figured I'd either get shot or chased, and I didn't want to sprint with my frozen toes since the heater didn't work.)

I think he took pity on me, as he just sent me home. Smug cops and their working doors and luxurious heaters.

It finally died late one night as I was heading to a friend's house. There was a huge gunshot-like noise that came from the engine as I was making a turn. Loud noises and pops weren't out of the ordinary, so I kind of ignored it. When the smoke started billowing - I was kind of hoping it meant the heater was finally kicking in. To no avail. It was some pump or something - never to run again.

When I look back on it - I think I had far more lady prospects driving that Camry than I do now, so maybe there was something to it. Coulda been that smoky dusty paint job, or maybe the scattered rust that was a turn on.

Anywho, here's the new ride - the 2007 Infiniti G35x. Its coolest feature is that it has an internal 10 gig hardrive, and every CD you put in automatically burns to the drive. Kind of an iPod on wheels. The backup camera also works well for stalking people behind you.

"Last Night" by P. Diddy sounds ridiculous on the sound system.

That's how I roll.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This may not be normal...

One of the things they don't tell you about when you move to the East Coast is that they have this little phenomenon called a Nor'easter. Basically it's a storm. More specifically, it describes a "low pressure area whose center of rotation is just off the coast and whose leading winds in the left forward quadrant rotate onto land from the northeast. The precipitation pattern is similar to other extratropical storms. They also can cause coastal flooding, coastal erosion and gale force winds."

For now: let's just focus on the flooding part of that equation....

It rained here for about 2 days straight over the weekend, and Monday night Mother Nature went medieval on our collective asses. Picture Hurricane Katrina, without the impoverished families in boats. I live by a river - but by no means can I lean out my window and feed the geese swimming by. This river is across the road, down a hill...completely out of sight. Usually.

But Monday night, all the runoff from the storm caused the river to massively flood - and it rose up into my whole complex in the span of about 2 hours. Some cars were able to get out - but my parking space happens to be in a low spot, and it flooded with about 5 feet of water before they could come up and get me.

It was hard to even get down into the garage, as all the stairways were flooded too. I'm not a Physicist or anything - but when I finally got to my car,I think the technical term for what the Acura was doing was 'floating'. Water had completely covered the dash, and it was totally flooded inside. I just kinda laughed and took some pictures. The guy who owned the Denali across from me was less enthused. There's no standard emotional response for when you see your very new luxury automobile doing the backstroke.

This all happened about 5:00pm, and afterward I was hanging around outside with some of the other residents - watching the mayhem. As people would return home from work (many walk or take trains and subways to work) - they come home, see the flooding, and freak. Literally freak. The most common response was, verbatim, "What the @#$!!" Kind of a case study in human emotion. I particularly felt bad for the guy who had a Porche go under. I became a bit of an information kiosk and grief counselor for those that took it hard.

They pumped the water out Tuesday afternoon, and fished my car out. It's totaled, and now sitting in some salvage yard in Jersey. I think I'll have an insurance check by Friday, and then I'll go buy a new car. "Lexus" always had a nice ring to it...but we'll see.

All in all - you gotta put something like this in perspective. It's just a car - and in light of the shootings in Virginia, life could be much worse. My company also will lease me a car - so maybe I'll just take a free car from it's not all bad.

Here's some more pics as the saga unfolded... The flooded streets, the water receding a bit, and then my car after it got out from the pool.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What I've learned:

I turn 27 this week. Not that it's any big milestone, but I thought I'd mark the occasion by listing a few things I think I've learned. Here goes:

Life is a never ending battle against dust and body hair.

Take risks. Don't take careless chances.

The dimple in your tie and the shine on your shoes lets people know you care about your appearance.

Naps, naps, naps.

Leg hair is manly, chest hair is manly, but manliness can apparently only be expressed on one side of the body, because according to my sources - ass hair and back hair are unacceptable.

I still like to buy CD's, because I find the song that speaks to me most is usually one that most people never hear.

It's the little things. There's nothing bigger.

Strolling back to your hotel on the the Vegas strip after the sun comes up feels like you're getting away with something.
Growing up means you have to do that little back and forth where you argue about who 'gets' to pick up the check.

A party doesn't really get going until someone buys the first round of shots.

There is no good reason to eat salad. It's like eating weeds slathered in goo.

Always keep at least 3 bottles of wine around. You never know.

People always want to get away, but people in airports just want to get home.

One phone call can accomplish what 9 e-mails cannot.

I flew 40,000 miles last year to about 2 dozen different cities. Nothing is more annoying than going to an Applebee's when you get there. Every place is the same unless you go dig around a bit and find a local gem. The best was an out-of-the way steakhouse in Kansas City where the bartender gave me a free bottle of wine because I told her I walked a mile and a half to find this place. I actually walked 3 miles, but it was a nice night - and I didn't want her to think I was nuts.

I distinctly remember the first time I caught myself checking a woman's hand for a wedding ring, and thinking to myself - 'whoa, does this mean I'm old? I never used to do that when I was 16.'

The most interesting people you meet at a cocktail party are the people on the edge of the room.

Hard work helps, but luck is essential.

All weddings are the same. I hope mine isn't.

It's hard to say what I've learned. I'm just trying to keep growing.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Caloric Expenditures and Endorphins

Saturday afternoon I busted off the kind of run that makes you say, "Hey, I should blog about this." Far and away this was the best run I've ever had, and easily the longest and most satisfying in my marathon training (which is just starting). For the past month or so, I'd been running 3 or 4 miles, three or four times a week - just to ease into things. However, Saturday I blew the doors off...for reasons I'm still not quite sure of.

Until Saturday, the longest distance I'd ever run non-stop was about 3.5 miles. And lately, I'd been doing about 2 miles, walking for 30 seconds or so, and then finishing out the last mile or two. But on Saturday, I busted off a 5 mile run non-stop, and actually felt like I could go another mile or two.

Being a man of science, I'm still trying to figure out the reason why my body suddenly jumped up from 2 miles to 5...with no real pain or suffering.

Possible catalysts:
  • Perfect weather: About 45 degrees, just a bit of a cool breeze coming off the river
  • I chowed 2 pieces of licorice right before I stepped out the door
  • I popped an Advil and a creatine pill 2 hours beforehand (as my marathon book suggests)
  • My newly created iPod running mix was in effect. A solid mix of WHAM, Nelly, 50 Cent, and my personal 'power song': Holding out for a Hero - by Bonnie Tyler. Try it.
  • Did some sprints Thursday night, which maybe created new muscles or stamina?

Whatever the cause, it was a pretty solid run and I felt pretty accomplished at the end. In the larger scheme, 5 miles is child's play compared to the longer distances to come in the months ahead...but nonetheless, a good milestone.

The picture above is the running trace from my iPod/Nike+ run tracker (which everyone should get if you want to get motivated about running). Below is a pic I snapped right after the run, which I did along the Raritan River that runs past my place. The black skull cap scares off possible muggers and possessed squirrels.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Sunday like you dream about

Every so often, a Sunday comes along so ripe with TV entertainment - one can hardly contain himself. Sunday at the Masters, the return of The Sopranos, and the Season Premiere of Entourage...all in one glorious afternoon and evening. Men everywhere will be reduced to comatose slugs as they take up residence upon their respective couches from noon - 10pm, not to be disturbed. What rules even more is that most women will have zero interest in watching any of the three - which makes it all the better. Kinda reminds me of high school - a bunch of guys sitting around, no women in sight.

Mix in a Twins game and Chipotle - and you've got yourself a hedonistic bacchanalian even Caligula could appreciate. I don't have a Bible in front of me, but I'm guessing this is pretty much what God had going on when he decided to 'rest' on Sunday. Big ups to JC.

::Movie Tagline::
A man, his couch, and untold enchantment with the tv across the room. One thing is certain: come morning, nothing will ever be the same. Rated R.

But whatever, you're reading blogs. It's not like you've got anything better going on.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Opening Day 2007

Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.