Monday, July 30, 2007

Beer of the Week (Old)

The Beer of the Week last week was Baviera. It's a beer they make in Paraguay that comes in wonderfully big bottles. It's nice and smooth lager and reminds me again that most other countries have national beers that don't suck.

Observe the smoothness of the man who drinks Baviera.

Good luck finding it around here.....

Ahhh my second home

So I'm back. I actually got back last night, but the thought of writing about the trip seemed a bit overwhelming. It still does, to be honest. So I'm thinking of breaking this down into pieces.

The Trip Down

The trip down was long but uneventful. We were on American, which has this nifty thing called the Gold Challenge that I participated in. If you want status and you know you're going to fly on American a bunch in the next three months, it basically allows you to gain status with 5,000 miles instead of 25K. So I got status on my flight down, which is cool. The leg from Miami to Sao Paolo was on one of their new 777s, which was nice. It looks like this:
We rented a car to get back and forth to work in. It a manual and I guess that as I was the trip leader, I drove it. Lemme tell you something, driving in Asuncion in a stick shift is an experience.

Highlights of the trip included:
  • Getting the Hooters Asuncion T-shirt.
  • Working for 22 hours one day delivering food. Food in sacks that weighed about 100 pounds. Oh yeah ladies.....The beach is that way.
  • Going out at midnight, because it's the early bird special if you go out any earlier.
  • Hearing Dancing Queen blaring on the stereo with 4 guys in the car driving back to the hotel on that long, long day.
  • Speaking enough Spanish to be dangerous.
  • Enjoying a sunset so pretty it could make you cry.
  • Spending quality time with amazing people and feeling like you make a difference in this world.
And there's tons more. I'll try and post some of the photos to Flickr.

It wasn't all hard work. Here I am with three of my colleagues...Susie, Haidee, and Mimi. Building Bridges.....

More later.....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lo siento

Sorry this is a little late.....let`s make this quick. I leave tomorrow.

In the past few days I have:

  • Spent 22 hours out of a 24 hour day actually working.
  • Had my rental car broken into and my sunglasses stolen. Stupid thieves. Hope they have an astigmatism and amblyopia.
  • Off loaded over 40,000 kilos of food to people along a river bank off a boat.
  • Been inside a U.S. Embassy.
More stories later. Tonight, the bridge building with my counterparts continues.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Greetings from America de Sud. I ran through two separate airports in less than 12 hours. It was awesome. We made it here safe, as did our luggage. I´m afraid there won´t be photos posted during the trip as my camera adaptor is at home.

I´m driving down here, and it´s a stick. Yes, they drive on the same side we do. But having had Driver´s Ed in Manhattan, Asuncion isn´t all that tough.

I´ll post more as I can. I really love the Boeing 777. The seats are extra wide, which is nice for my fat ass.

Off to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream. Dream en espanol.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I hate this part

I usually fly in the mornings. That means I avoid this part of the trip the most. The time when you're waiting to go to the airport. I've packed a whole bunch of things. I've probably packed waay too many boxers and not enough shirts. And I'm just going a little stir crazy, but it's okay.

Nervous jitters I suppose.

Catch up...

Alright, I have a bunch of stuff and there's not a lot of time to dilly-dally.

First, Tammy Faye died. I'm sure most of you know this. I can still see her and her husband sobbing "I have sinned" after it was found they were embezelling tons of cash. Her bio is here. I don't really care about this, but it seemed pop culture worthy.

Second, I saw Transformers last night. Oh my God did I love this movie. Some might not remember the older Transformers movie, which my friend Steve showed me. That was good. This is better. The characters were great. John Turturro and Bernie Mac were perfect in parts that didn't eclipse the movie. Also, in a world of CGI and unbelievable action scenes, most people aren't that impressed. I was throughout this entire movie. Very well done melding of CGA and real life action.

I didn't like the fact that this movie, just like the 2nd Matrix was a very long GM commercial, but I guess the sponsors needed to get their bucks worth somehow.

My favorite reason for loving this movie was that sitting in a crowded theater in Burlington, MA surrounded by families and their kids, I felt a kinship with this movie. When Optimus Prime growls "Autobots, roll out," I had this big grin on my face. I watched the cartoon and played with the giant clunky plastic toys, which any normal child will tell you was 10 times cooler than the lame Go-bots. And so there was a great joy in seeing my childhood brought to life, and I secretly loved that I got it and most of these kids just thought this was a cool movie.

Finally today, I am almost all packed for my trip down to Paraguay. I am excited. However, I need to travel through Brazil, which has not been scoring points on aviation safety recently. First there was this. Then there was this last week, which I posted about earlier. And finally this morning, the radar across the country went dead with planes in the air thanks to a short circuit. And the radar snafu happened after Reuters wrote their little summary entitled Brazil's Deepening Aviation Crisis.

Awesome. But the way I look at it, if I can survive Harlem and a few summers of the Rucker, then landing in the Brazilian rainforest is nothing. I hope to post from down there. Don't know about any photos, but I'll at least write a little bit. If I miss you all and need a little America, a place just opened to help with that.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This is no anchorman

While one of my friend's blogs does a better job at movie reviews, I'd like to weigh in on my evening's choice. Netflix brought me Talladega Nights: Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The simple title alone leads me to believe that the studios hoped this would lead to a sequel.

I hated the beginning of this movie, and then it got funny, and then it got crappy again. So all in all, I laughed but not like Anchorman. That is a movie I could see again and still laugh at new things. The jokes were so predictable, and not that funny in this one. The ladies in the movie were hot, so that was a good thing. However, there was no nudity, so again we're back to the middle ground.

I give it a 6/10.

However what I do give a 9 out of 10 is Foodler. This is a site in certain cities that allows you to put in your zip code and it'll find delivery places that will deliver to you according the the time it is. And you can pay by credit card, and keep your usual orders on the site. I recommend it if you're in their catchment area.

Slumber Party for Congress

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


So Happy Hump Day! (That's Wednesday perverts.)

A few things here and there....

Dunno if you saw this, but IHOP bought Applebee's for $1.9 billion. I thought I had more money than IHOP. I guess the geriatric crowd really helps their bottom line. Perhaps now Applebee's will have sticky tables too. (Hat tip to Consumerist for that.) I wonder if Waffle House will buy Chili's now.

I had a work meeting down on the Cape today and showed up early. Like 4 hours early. That sucked. I did suggest a name for a future Coast Guard Exercise though today.

"Vigilant Chowder"

The Coasties weren't too impressed.

And finally, this week marks my third straight week of running more than 2 days. It's kind of strange, but I like it after work. Helps my mind settle a bit. But it can be bruising to the ego to use mapping tools to find you're only running 1.5394 miles.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I need this right now...

So I'm leaving on in a few days for Paraguay. My second trip in a little over 6 months. I'm quite excited. I just hope I survive the flight.

This is a picture of a TAM Airbus 320 that skidded off the runway in Sao Paulo into a gas station and an office building. They're not betting anyone made it out alive. This is the same plane I'll be taking from Sao Paulo to Asuncion, and the same airline.

I particularly enjoyed this passage from the NY Times:
"Civil aviation in Brazil has been in crisis since last September, when the worst airline disaster, a collision over the Amazon between a passenger plane and a business jet, took place. Since that disaster, in which 154 people were killed, Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country, has been racked by waves of canceled flights, air controller strikes and go-slow actions, struggles between military and civilian officials for control of the government’s aviation regulatory agencies and revelations that the national radar system is deficient."


The positives are:
1. This is a different airport than the one I'll be flying into and out of.

2. What are the chances of the same thing happening in less than a week?

Currently Brazilian aviation is ranking near Chinese toothpaste on my list of consumer warm fuzzies. At least they have free booze on the flight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

God Bless the Internets

Be happy you're not this guy, courtesy of my friends over at HCwDB

She'll need more than PowerSauce Bars

My friend is climbing the 4th tallest peak in these United States this weekend. So we went out to dinner tonight before her husband has to drive her to the airport very early in the morning.

In case you ignoramuses don't know what the 4th highest peak is, it's Mount Rainier in Washington. This is pretty damn cool. I'm sure she'll summit and return with all of her digits. But while most of you are sitting on their ass this weekend, think of some girl 14,000 feet up in the air.

Very cool. Her husband and I will be planning an international trip for the fall. Any ideas. If you want to go to Europe, this deal ends tomorrow, so move your ass.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beer of the Week 7/10/07

This week I again went for my run to the beer store. This time, the run was almost 2 miles, and I'm not so sure the guy at the counter appreciated me dripping sweat on the merchandise, but whatever. If he knew how much I worked for that sweat.....

Anyway, I chose for this week the Opa-Opa Red Rock Amber Ale. I wish you luck in finding this outside of Massachusetts, as it's brewed at a steakhouse brewpub in Southampton, MA. The reason for the strange name is that oddly it's run by a bunch of greek guys. I'm not sure I believe in Souvlaki prime rib, but they make a great amber ale. It won a Gold Medal at the Great International Beer Festival in 2005. I'd give it the Gold as well.

BA gives it an 83. I'd go higher. I'm thinking an 88. It's smooth, full and tasty. Went great with my Croissant Pocket. I probably should have just had the beer for dinner.

Two things

Okay, so I was perusing Fark and happened across this gem.

A guy robbed a bank disguised as shrubbery. In New Hampshire. He got away with around $1,000 dollars. And was then caught shortly after with the money. Here is the security camera from the bank...

Holy crap. I'm stunned. So you think this is great right? Even right now, you're saying "Thank you Graham for this bounty you have shown me." Well it gets better. The police captain who was interviewed is named Dick Tracy.

Double holy crap. Are you kidding me? I kind of hope he talked into his watch to have the officers surround the house.

Monday, July 09, 2007

July 4th: Barbeques and Birthrights

So this past weekend, headed up to the Adirondacks with my friends Clevon and Darleen* to my Mom's place. The town is really small, but right near it sits the Ausable Club, a bastion of WASP outdoorsman power. You could throw a rock and hit either a blond headed 5-year old named Tyler or about 75 Volvo wagons. It's so elitest, the website doesn't even tell you about the place at all, unless you want to work there. Needless to say, it's not really my scene. But went hiking and got some golf in and I almost finished this great book. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. I highly recommend it.

I also returned to the most awesome bar on the planet. It's called Old Main 2o, or at least I think it is. And it's located in the hamlet of Ausable Forks, NY. The Coors Light is $1. And they have shuffleboard where you can play USA vs. USSR. This seems appropriate given the location of Lake Placid, so close by. They also have Sopranos: The Pinball Game which throws out the F-bomb randomly as you play, which is pretty cool.

So that was my July 4th. Happy Birthday America. As with all of my birthday wishes, this is belated. My bad. I didn't even send a card.

* I have changed the names of these friends to protect their future political aspirations and private-sector hopes.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Taking some time off....

So I'm leaving around noon today for the Adirondacks in upstate NY. I'll be in Keene, NY which is right near Lake Placid, home to the Miracle on Ice. The weather forecast looks a little crappy, but I've got some books and I'm still going to bring the clubs. So I'll be in radio silence until Sunday, which is kind of freaking me out. I'm not the best when it comes to not being connected, but I think that's why its really good that I won't be.

Oh, and the Beer of The Week will return next week. I was working last night and didn't have time to jog to the liquor store. Hope everyone had a great and dry 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My friend

I would like to spend a little time tonight talking about my friend Erin. Erin Aljoe Schlather was my first girlfriend in college. Hell, she was really my first girlfriend ever. We dated for about 3 months, and she was more mature than I by leaps and bounds. Even as a freshman, she was a young woman, while I was seemingly an older boy. So that relationship ended rather quickly, as I kept making promises that my young self could in no way keep.

Erin then became my friend. A good friend. She had this incredible ability to listen, and listen like there was no one else in the world but you and her. It was so wonderful to see that level of interest in her eyes when she was talking to you. I think of her every time I think I'm being sneaky and checking my watch or looking at the person behind the one who's speaking.

And her laugh. It was this great high-pitched giggle that seemed to make everything seem silly. It was the same giggle she'd give along with this look that said, "You didn't really do that, did you? Seriously? Dumb boy." She was genuinely happy for you when things went right. There was no trace of jealousy or envy. She was just an incredible person.

She fell asleep while driving her car home three years ago, and her car flipped over the embankment and landed top-down in a stream and she died. I can't seem to believe that she's gone. And much like how I kick myself because it's hard to notice the Towers missing from the downtown NYC skyline, I find myself worrying about being hyper-vigilant about forgetting about her. That was dumb.

Erin has this wonderful way of popping into my head randomly. And I feel that she really is watching over me, and that in some ways I am a direct extension of her memory. I'm not drinking tonight, but when I next open a beer, I will pour a little out for her. I know she'd like that.

Good night Erin, wherever you are.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I owned an elliptical machine

For less than 24 hours.

My brother Ross came over this morning, with two different types of beverages so I knew he was hungover, and I quickly learned that not only would this thing probably not fit up my stairs, but I really don't have room for it. And sadly, I didn't notice that the homeless were much slimmer, so that plan failed as well. Back in the Explorer it went, and out to my friends at the Salvation Army. And by friends, I meant a giant loading dock in Saugus, MA.

I am a huge fan of this organization, and need to say that I've worked with the people on their disaster responder side and they've been nothing short of amazing. I'm also particularly fond of the way they do their job quietly and efficiently without all the fanfare. So I paid $200 and figure I'll get the write-off for the same amount, so we can call it a wash.

Other items of note from the weekend...

- Brad Paisley's new album 5th Gear is out now. I really love the whole thing. If you dabble in country, this is for you. His single "Online" is awesome and the video can be found here, starring Jason Alexander and William Shatner. But check out the album.

- Chuck came over and brought some fresh fruit, handpicked at his parent's farm. I'd give you the weblink, but it's apparently dead.

- Speaking of computer skills, got to see the most expensive powerpoint demonstration yesterday, when I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth. Really stark stuff. At times a little preachy by Gore about his personal life, but the movie was good. I wonder if I could hire him to help me with my powerpoint skills. That guy has some serious web-fu.