Austin Vegas’s Day Off

 Society, Sports, Travel  Comments Off on Austin Vegas’s Day Off
May 232006
 

Last weekend we hit a trip into the city of Chicago. I woke up this Friday morning and really just didn’t want to go into work today *cough, Cough*. My woman just happend to be out to Chi-town for work and I hop the first flight out so to get a chance to cruse this new-to-me city for two days.

Unfortunately for us, there are plenty of conventions in town the weekend of the 19th so we’re forced to have a room with the Christian Womens Movement at the Hyatt Regency O’hare. The rate wasn’t bad, the room was big with full office capabilities but it was 45 minutes by the blue line to the city and if we had to take the red line, it was even longer with the back track. Although I didn’t get to recite “Danke Schoen” on a float there were plenty of highlights of my weekend.

Friday was opening night for the MBL Hometown series as the Chicago White Sox were hosting the Cubs. Tickets for the game were sold out months before I even knew of the trip but StubHub had a few options not too far off face value. We missed a little tailgating and because we had to pick up the tickets off the parking lot, we didn’t get to our 300 level seats till the bottom of the 2nd. Still hovering over home plate, the view was great even if we missed some fireworks and spinning wheels (home run celebration at US Cellular field).

Being at the home town field, we were out for the former Series Champs and they didn’t disappoint. Maddux was flustered all day and the Sox came out on top with a 6 – 1 win over the cubs. I guess the tension was eminent as the follow up game at Wrigley field was a dog fight literally and an altercation at the plate caused the benches to clear. We were at a bar when this incident happened and Chicago lit up with fire, one way or the other…

After the game there wasn’t much planned so we too to the trains get out downtown and see what happens. We pop out of the Red line at the Chicago to the appearance of a huge tent and blue music filling the streets… A parade? No, but it was the Weber Grill Restaurant – BBQ Block Party. A yearly celebration and firefighter grill cook off, with beers, wine, BBQ and blues for 8 hours. Koko (of “Wang Dang Doodle” fame), Lonnie Brooks and Dave Specter and the Bluebirds featuring Tad Robinson performed. Lonnie Brooks (pictured) was off the hook rocking back n forth on the stick and getting the mildly liquored crowed going. Not bad on the BBQ but the kicker was the great weather and a few local brews for $3 ea.

Playin tourist on Saturday we walked downtown, Millennium Park, and Millennium Mile, took a bike tour of the lake and surrounding museums including the Married w/ Children intro fountain: Buckingham Fountain, and experienced a great tourist tour by taking the architecture cruise of the Chicago river ways. I snapped some shots around the river. Rather than wait in lines all day for the Sear’s Tower view, or paying the 10 clams for the Handcock center, we took the elevator shot up to The Signature Room, for a few NY priced Martinis…

Check out some photos and I could update this, sometime later:




















The full gallery of Chicago architecture and other photos

TNT straight from the Bay in NYC

 Nightlife, Personal, Society, Travel  Comments Off on TNT straight from the Bay in NYC
May 182006
 

As prefaced in the last post. I had a few friends from the bay come through ny. This week was quite the eclectic mix bag of drinkin and unique NY flair. The pics below and in the gallery are of the NY Yankee’s game with the Oakland A’s visiting (unfortunately the A’s lost this round but they made up for it in the series) and the club BED in the meat packin area. BED was by far a spot I’d frequent primarily because the music/dj sucked top forty balls – which probably contributed to our group getting completely tossed on the vodka sodas…

Also this week I visited a piano bar in the west village where the locals sing show tunes, Bobs and a few other spots in the lower east side and Ninja restaurant.

Ninja New York is a theme restaurant based off the original Japanese version where the interior is a maze of decor designed to depict a Ninja castle or cave with staff dressed the part of Ninjas but hardly took the act any farther with their lack in enthusiasm for the theme. The food was excellent and presented uniquely, however, over priced and light on the portions. The added bonus is a table magicial which we had to ask for to be included in our “show” and dispite the parlor tricks added a little entertainment to the meal. I wouldn’t venture back but the location seemed wrong in Tribeca, maybe would do better near Times Square.

With the visit I was introduced to a few new friends out here, Magri, Marco, Julie, Khun, and Romy. And a few not friendly cats – after the gallery we picked up a few new peeps and one of which turned out to be a shady Swiss lass with her skippin out on paying the ninja bill and purse stealing at the end of the night. I had hoped for the best with adub but little more was discussed of this mistress after that drunken night…

Theosky and Tsientong invade New York Gallery

NuNu’s! The High or Low???

 Society, Travel  Comments Off on NuNu’s! The High or Low???
Apr 092006
 

The follow up trip in my “Cali” (as my gf says now that we’re in NY) tour, I flew down to SD to start training for a new job. An excellent position at start up, that allows me to work at home and has the flexibility and control of the true field position. It’s exactly what I wanted both in responsibility and getting away from the huge corporate red-tape laden enterprise business.

I checked into an extended stay Marriott north of town in Hotel Circle, where the only nightlife is a liquor store and a few hotel bars that close at 12 or so… oh and a few spots up highway 8 at the mall – Yeah! strip mall bars! Lucky for me I had choice of top or bottom… and as Tom Hanks is well quoted “I get to be on top!”

Had a nice view from the corporate office windows which begged me to get to the beach rather than go to work. The training was standard: here’s a desk, a phone, some computer programs and literature… a schedule for some meetings and good selling! I picked it up quickly and was very pleased with the up-beat work environment (people actually smiled and talked to each other… amazing!), they provided some amenities (snacks, drinks, tea and coffee – maybe they do want people to work here!), and even some downtime activities (Friday an impromptu ping pong match sprang up, I declinded a last place seeding).

Also this week was the NCAA finals. Straight after work I headed to the mall… and Seau’s

The next weekend rolls around for ol BP’s birthday celebration. Started off at the Marriott, this time downtown Gaslamp where we watched the opening day Padres vs. Giants from the hotel room:

The evenings were spent a re-newed club called Belo (formerly E Street) where a friend of ours takes care of the VIPs

Bumped in to an old friend from the dorm dayz at poly… ol Brooksie G! Still regulatin. Good to see him around and I was thinking I had seen him the wed before at lunch … and I had.

I’m not going to go into much detail of the weekend except that Saturday morning still drinking at ol Nunu’s was going crazy strong for the CA party. Here’s a few key shots and the link for the rest at the bottom. Enjoy!

Diego Gallery

Most Traveled Man

 Travel  Comments Off on Most Traveled Man
Mar 122006
 

I think I’ve done some good traveling in the last 10 years but I certainly have an even longer list of “Must See” destinations. I found this site that pits you against the “Most Traveled Man” and as of today I stack up all right:

You are currently #852 on the list of the world’s most traveled people

Most Traveled Man Site (watch out for the Johnny Cash intro if your speakers are on).

According to a few of my friends I’m more traveled than them 1215 and 975 respectively. I do hope to get to Asia this year and I can up my numbers and hopefully add some more ticks to those goose egg columns down there. Email me if you want to know where exactly I’ve been.

My Count
PACIFIC OCEAN 6 of 83
NORTH AMERICA 31 of 100
CENTRAL AMERICA 0 of 9
SOUTH AMERICA 0 of 42
CARIBBEAN 0 of 42
ATLANTIC OCEAN 0 of 15
EUROPE & MEDITERRANEAN 16 of 109
ANTARCTICA & SUB-ANTARCTIC ISLANDS 0 of 26
AFRICA 0 of 66
MIDDLE EAST 0 of 23
INDIAN OCEAN 0 of 26
ASIA 0 of 131

Total Visited 53 of 672

Mount Tremblant est chaud!!!

 Sports, Travel  Comments Off on Mount Tremblant est chaud!!!
Feb 232006
 

It’s a sunny February afternoon in upstate New York. My calves and abs are worked over, the left ass cheek is bruised and my whole body just feels abused. I’m riding in the back next to the gear of a white Chevy Tahoe, streaked brown from the ice, sleet and snow of the mountains of Canada. It’s the final leg of a long weekend road trip, snowboarding at Mount Tremblant and the six of us are reluctant to return to New York, yet you couldn’t tell based on the upbeat comradely from a great excursion.
Our trip started just after the close of business office hour bells ring, Thursday. We all met at the car rental office, an Alamo rental agency and one of the most disrespectfully run businesses I’ve been to this week (next to K-mart where I over heard floor managers swear at each other in front of customers). It’s amazing this place stays above water, when you get a feel for the caliber and intelligence of the counter workers employed at this place. Blank stares, unintelligible engrish and poor service including a dirty car (i.e. trash & cookie crumbs all over the interior) and no gas in the tank. Tim, Scott, Greg, Nicole, the Law, and myself packed the car and headed north on the New York throughway to the boarder and our final destination of Mount Tremblant, which is just shy of two hours north of Montreal, Quebec.

Originally planning a 2 am arrival, rather we sloshed grill first on through a fierce ice storm just north of Montreal. We finally arrived, cramped, restless, yet excited at 4 am, greeted by Luke, the night clerk(aka the “silent killer”) of the Chateau Beauvallon. The Chateau, a few minutes drive down from Mount Tremblant Resort and Village, a newly renovated resort-style hotel, reviving one of the oldest ski lodges in North America. One of our friend’s families are part investors of the Chateau, where they receive a rental dividend of the establishment and a “time share” for personal use, in this case our use for this weekend. The hotel was designed more with the old Inn or comfortable ski lodge feel as you’re welcomed by mahogany front desk, stone and hardwood floors, historic photographs of yore, plush couches and chairs surrounding a traditional stone hearth fireplace. The accommodation bonuses we enjoyed were the heated indoor pool, outdoor spa (with a heated pathway), seclusion from the noise of the village (however, always available through the free on-demand hotel shuttle). Our 4 day residence was much like an 2 bed, 2 bath (each with heated floors) apartment with leather furnishings, more mahogany paneling, a full kitchen with complete set of utensils and cooking gear, flat screen TVs, and a balcony overlooking the outdoor spa and snow covered pool.


Because of the 10 hour car ride, the delay on our arrival, and the rain to ice storm the night of our arrival, Friday we made the executive decision to relax into our accommodations, play tourist and of course! have a drinking day… The storm had settled however, the temperature had now dropped to a “bone chilling” -17 degrees Celsius (I now know what that description means after this trip). Minus the gear, we drove to local town, St. Sauviant that afternoon for lunch, wisely foregoing another 4+ hours of driving to skip the day trip to Montreal. That evening we heard there was a 60 car pile up from the sever wind and storm conditions on the highway north of Montreal, something we most certainly would have been caught up in. We at lunch at a decent grill on the small town main drag, where the most memorable aspect being the low sodium French Onion soup. A few blocks of walking and we were ready for warmer environments. On the way back to the Chateau we stopped by a ski shop and I made the best purchase of the weekend : a face mask for the slopes (I wouldn’t have survived the wind chill/burn without it).

The morning of our arrival the hotel was decorated with balloons, Olympic and Italian flags and mock Olympic medals. Upon return the red carpets were rolled out, disco lighting and acid jazz was playing through the hotel (and apparently they forgot to change the CD through out our stay as it played over…and over… and over every night). The media was there and all the Chateau office staff was decked out. Our break, this weekend was the Chateau’s Grand Opening and the evening was their night of celebration. The construction was finished last year and their doors opened Dec. 15th, however, they but pushed back the party to the 18th of Feb. to avoid the holiday madness. The Friday night party included a free open-ice-bar, some down home entertainment and the molasses boys from La Sucrerie De La Montagne with their iced sticks of sweet goodness – ah Quebecois!. The hotel owners provided speeches, cut the ribbon on the Chateau, and after the fireworks celebrated with booze, salmon orderves, free booze and fiddles! Greg and I closed out the bar that evening, unfortunately…

Boarding day, Saturday… and knowing that the weather the nights before had iced the runs, we had some work to do to cut some new trails. We started late from a late evening, skipping breakfast and this would be my downfall… Taking a half day after getting our lift tickets, I made my first run and could already feel the sickness kick in. It wasn’t till the gondola ride up that I broke and at the top lost what breakfast muffin and power aid I had stomached. The rest of the day for me was cut short but not a wash… the lodge was a spot to catch up and “get back to normal”.

The next day, however, was excellent despite having the coldest conditions I’ve ever boarded in. Minus 20 degrees F in the early morning oh wait but it warmed up to about minus 10 that afternoon. Unfortunately my rental board was thin and I had some significant toe drag but the long runs lead for some great times. The views of the valley were awesome, especially sliding down the front side of Mount Tremblant. I had only wished I had my skill back to enjoy more of the mountain, alas… next time around.

And next to boarding the next best thing was the hot spa after a few beers back at the hotel. Drinks and some aching bodies, the NY team was battered, cut from diving into the ice after the spa, bruised from sliding off the hits and exhausted from the altitude. Our last evening was wasted watching the wonderful Canadian coverage of the Winter Olympics. Not in the US will you see 4 full channels of Olympic coverage, with minimal commercial interruptions and full viewing of all athletes and sports competitions. On that last note, I have to say I’m very disappointed in the American coverage of the US Olympics in general. It is like the athletes have stated, the Olympics are not about the medals; it’s about the experiences, the competition, the events and the communal nature of bringing together the nations of this world to celebrate human achievement. It’s also quite unfortunate that American coverage did not accent this aspect of the games which was especially true when no podium ceremonies were broadcasted where the Americans were not gold medalists. May we in the future learn to appreciate all world participants regardless of their country of origin, and we’ll get that much closer to world equality of mankind.

The close of our trip was a long 8 hour ride back through Canada, across the boarder and through the state of New York. We made good time and I could not wait to crash back into bed.






A small clip from our drive through the snow storm (Driving Clip)

The full gallery of our trip

Double Down in Vegas

 Nightlife, Travel  Comments Off on Double Down in Vegas
Jan 242006
 

Double Down SaloonJust back from an excellent trip in Vegas. Not too much to report but a lot of drinking and too much gambling. Too much because I came back in the negative this time around and I knew I should have stepped away from those BlackJack tables earlier with winnings…

One highlight for several of the boys was one of my favorite dives in Vegas the DoubleDown. You get a chance to get off the strip go take a look and have some of their Ass Juice! Great selection of tunes on the Jukebox and cheap beers which was great after getting the shaft at the tables… some how the free ones in the casino just don’t taste so free after a loss.

Double Down Saloon

Vegas on the Cheap?

 Travel  Comments Off on Vegas on the Cheap?
Jan 232006
 

Got this link today from a friend regarding deals for Vegas casinos. I haven’t used it yet but thought I’d post up and see if it comes in value when I head back out the desert. Still think I’m recovering from the last time…

Cheap O’ Vegas

Let me know if this works for ya… Enjoy!

Bridge n Tunnel crowd forced out of the city – TWU Strike

 Politics & Government, Society, Travel  Comments Off on Bridge n Tunnel crowd forced out of the city – TWU Strike
Dec 202005
 

So I wrote a post about the potential strike of the NYC transit workers last week (Linked here) and after their pathetic attempt to bluff the system yesterday with a 2-line private bus strike in Queens, they finally pulled the plug on the NYC commute. The first transit strike in 25 years has commenced and a walk around NYC today feels like a stroll in my home town suburb of P-town.

The TWU’s strike, initiated as a counter move in negotiations for more money, is yet another reason American Unions are deflating the US economy and these days its all about greed. These no education-having fucks make more money than the average NYer (public defender, cop, firefighter, teacher, nurse, EMT, etc.) and still think they deserve more of the financial pie from an already corrupt MTA.

It’s quite ironic actually, that through their strike, NYers are forced not to work and spend their income in the city. Thus the TWU is helping reduce the amount of taxes incurred by the city to pay their own salaries. An 18% raise, retirement at 50 and MLK day designated as a holiday for their job of driving around in circles, getting NYers to work, so we can pay for their homes and 9 person families. Well what about my family! My bills! My house er uh Apt!

“Transit workers are tired of being under appreciated and disrespected.” – Roger Toussaint (President of the Transit Workers Union). I think I deserve a thank you first for riding the train Mr. Toussaint, before I even contemplate appreciating the job a 5th grade education can afford.

If you pick a silver lining out of this, at least the BnT are stuck outside Manhattan – its quite livable in the city this morning! But if you’re forced to walk to the island today, bundle up kids, its going to be a balmy 23 degrees today!

A side note, I heard the Red Cross was set up at all the bridges in Manhattan for those walking into work today, handing out free coffee to the refugees.

Strike halts New York transport {BBC News}
Gawker has some interesting updates, comedy and posts on the strike as well.

MTA Employee’s & TWU Threaten NYC disruption with Strike

 Politics & Government, Society, Travel  Comments Off on MTA Employee’s & TWU Threaten NYC disruption with Strike
Dec 152005
 

MTA Transit Union workers threaten to walk off the job on Friday, should the MTA not agree to the Transit Worker’s Unions demands for a renewed contract of more money and better benefits. With out public transportation, the city would not exist and so the TWU believes a threat of strike, has the city by the balls. Of course a full strike of public transportation in NYC is illegal and could result in fines and/or jail time for those that participate.

The average person not living in New York might think, well if they are threatening there must be something wrong with the way they are treated right? Give them what they need and then what’s the issue you think? Unions are good for the American workforce right? They look out for the welfare and well being of the employees that are employed under these unions. Of course they do! But this isn’t the 1920s any more and we now have laws that intend to prevent the same malpractice and injustices seen in the labor force in the early 20th century.

My opinion is FIRE every single one of them. Kill the TWU and start up a new workforce under non-union labor conditions where the MTA is run more like a private sector company than a subsidized public utility. The average MTA worker is under educated (or not at all), lazy, rude, and has a nonchalant attitude toward customer service.

Here’s what the build up is all about: The city of New York is over 9 million strong in population, and on average 7,711,945 people on a weekday are moved around the city by fleet of almost 5,000 buses and more than 8,250 subway and rail cars (ABC News). There are over 60,000 employees that work for the MTA, and about half that (33,000 – those members of the TWU) are threatening a strike on Friday. The dispute is over money, plain and simple. Not benefits because they already get exceptional benefits (see below). The Union claims the MTA has a surplus of over $1 Billion USD this year in their budget and claims that some of this surplus should be funneled back into the workforce in the form of pay raises. The workforce contract is up on Friday December 16th and a new contract for the employees has not been agreed upon.

The original asking raise for the transit employees was 10% raise, year-over-year, for the next 3 years… a 30% raise! They came down to that figure to a “comfortable” 8% raise request, year-over-year for 3-years. This is still a 24% raise increase in three years. Oh and this is what we get with that extra money???

To put this into perspective. The average MTA worker makes between $55,000 and $68,000 USD a year (based on my research numbers and links below). With a 24% raise in three years they will be making $68,200 to $84,320 USD a year with full benifits and retirement after 20 years of service. They already make more than the average NYC teacher, EMT, and registered nurse a group of people who must go through years of education and hardwork that benefit the welfare and minds of the people of New York. With the raise, a subway car janitor will be making more than the average New Yorker!

Again… they should all be fired!


Here’s what the MTA already pays:

The starting salary of the current MTA Police officer is $33,000 USD and after 5 years they could be making $68,000 USD. That is a 20% year over year raise. Addition to that, they get optional retirement at half-salary after 20 years, unlimited sick leave with pay, comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage, and they only work 4 ten hour shifts a week. (MTA Police Department listing)

The following are other salaries for MTA employees with the same benefit packages listed above:
Transportation manager salary is $57,200 – $90,400 USD (Link)
Human Resources – $61,300 – $96,900 USD Link)
Engineers/Architects/Construction Managers – $74,000 -$117,000 USD (Link)
Marketing/Customer Service/Public Relations Positions Public Relations – $61,300 – $96,900 USD Link)

More info on the MTA Employment site (Link)

For comparison the average New York City Teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree + 30 Credits and 5 year experience makes $42,549. ( NYC Teacher Salary Calculator) The typical annual raise for teachers is 4% and this is based on merit, experience, education level, credits and hard work. A raise is not a guarantee, nor is it based on contract like the MTA workers are.

An average job is an Accountant I, and in New York, NY, the average salary for that job would be $47,054 (From Salary.com)