Blowing off a little steam, Chicago style..

We were in Chicago for the Columbia College of Chicago’s Graduate Open House.  The trip to and the actual open house can be found at http://limeguy50.com  This blog is about DS2 and I being tourists for a few hours before crashing at the hotel and flying home on Sunday.

The first stop after we left the school was the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. They have restaurants, bars, boats and in the warm weather, they have an amusement park with rides. Saturday was not a warm day. It was windy (Windy City) and chilly. I think we saw some snow flakes even. We parked the car, called my DW and gave her the lowdown on the open house. Then DS2 and I walked the pier and took pictures. I wanted to stop for a beer but it was cold and that beer would have gone in and right back out.  And, we had an early dinner, late lunch stop planned and I wanted to save my appetite for the next stop.

We walked and played tourist. Then we paid 25 dollars for parking at the pier. One price fits all. Park for an hour or a day, all the same price. When you see the pictures from the pier, enjoy them, they were expensive.  I never got to stick my foot in Lake Michigan. That was one of the goals, but the pier was way to high above the water to reach down and stick something into the water. And, I did mention that it was cold.

After the pier we drove through a GPS blind spot in the city. The GPS had us going in circles. Just as we would come to the next turn, the GPS would grey out like we were in a tunnel then the picture would start to spin in random directions. DS2 loaded the address into his phone and between them, we found our way. How silly.

Our destination was Shaw’s Crab House. One side of the business is a very upscale steak and seafood restaurant. The other side is the Oyster Bar. That was our destination. We sat down and enjoyed oysters, sushi and fried calamari. We did appetizers for dinner.  The table next to us ordered the two most expensive appetizers on the menu. She had the Florida Stone Crab claws (64 dollars a pound) and he had the fresh Red King Crab served chilled with a mustard sauce (65 dollars a pound). Add the a martini for each and tip and you are in the 175 dollar neighborhood and you have not yet eaten dinner. Yikes!  Our oysters and sushi were outstanding.  One of the sushi we had was called a Godzilla roll. At Shaw’s that sushi comes with BBQ Smoked Eel.  Just a little slice like an archive. You could pick it off the top but then you miss a unique and delicious flavor.

I had couple of local brewed beers, DS2 drank water. I think he was pretty beat at that point in the day.  When you ask where the bathroom was, the standard answer was make a right, walk past “death row” and you will see the doors on the right. “Death row” was the four tanks of live lobsters that were waiting for the chance to grace some bodies plate.  The bathrooms were upscale, everything was upscale.  Dinner, eat here is you can afford it. If not, try the Oyster Bar. Not cheap by any means, but less expensive than the main restaurant.

After we ate we followed that same GPS back to our hotel.  At that point we were both beat. DS2 had some reading to do for school, so I went down to the bar for a drink and to watch some college football. 

Here is a link to all the picture from our trip. I will include a few below. Thanks for reading!

Namaste

 

Columbia College of Chicago, open house..

We traveled Saturday morning from Newark, NJ to Chicago for the Columbia College of Chicago Graduate Open House.  The trip to Chicago is detailed in this blog and in this blog.  With a slight stage whisper, I might ask how the trip out could merit two blogs?  If you write, then you know that you write when the spirit moves you.  Enough said.

The open house was held in several of the buildings. The campus in set in the City of Chicago and as such, when they need to expand the school, they can’t just cut down some trees and build another building.  The school has to get creative and buy building as they become available then repurpose them for classes. The school has 10,000 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students.   After an opening coffee and informal meet and greet with the “Student Ambassadors” we went off to a room to meet with the instructors for the Music Composition for the Screen masters program.  The other students went with their guides to wherever their “breakout session” was being held.

We walked into a small lecture hall and the guide asked up to sit in the field of view of the web cam that was sitting on his desk. Hmm, unusual for sure. There were about ten people in the room for the presentation. The student ambassador had each person introduce themself to the group then the video conference started. The main instructor was in Los Angels tending to some family health issues (not his) and the second in command instructor was at a wedding in West Virgina.  Both were phoning it in. I understand that things come up,  especially when it comes to family and health, but we (DS2 and I) made quite the effort and expense to be there.  Maybe we could have done the meet and greet via a webcam here in NJ and at his school in Scranton.

The meet and greet went well. The program looks interesting. I think that DS2 would benefit from the education and the skills that they will be teaching the students are marketable post university.  Like that phrase?  After the meet and greet we went for a tour to see the game lab where they work on music for video games. Then we went to the classroom where most of the teaching is done. Each year they admit 12 students into the program out of 55 applicants (2013).  In the last two graduating classes, they started with 12 and graduated 10. Not bad numbers.

Part of the program is a 6 month internship in Los Angeles doing what you have studied for the past two years.  The lead instructor is based in Los Angeles and has 30 plus years of experience in the music for the screen business in Los Angeles. He has the contacts that helps the students land the internship jobs.

After the tour we had lunch and then additional opportunities to meet with the student ambassadors and the heads of various department at the college.

 

Here are a few more pictures from the open house.  The next blog will cover the late afternoon and evening.  Thanks for reading!

Namaste

 

 

Change of plans..

Planus interuptus: An interruption in your plans. Tonight’s plan was dinner then hot yoga. After hot yoga some fluids, a shower (maybe) and off to bed.  When we arrived at Hot or Not Yoga we found out that the schedule had changed and our class had started an hour earlier.  Hmm, I guess we could have checked the website, but the time of the class seemed a constant,  now we have discovered that the time is variable.  We were a little miffed by the time changing and us (my DW and I) not having a clue. So, tonight’s blog or blogs are bought to you by Hot or Not Yoga, where you are reminded, to check the schedule on the web.

Let’s chat about the weekend. How was your weekend? Probably not like mine, if I were to guess. The weekend started at 5 pm Friday. I worked from home so the commute was easy. From the kitchen table to the chair in the living room. My DW and I went out of an early and light dinner and were back home by 7 pm. I kissed her goodbye and took my suitcase and camera bag and headed north to spend the night at the Weatherman’s house.  After I got there, my bother and DS2 talked me into going out for sushi.  It was not a difficult choice, I just needed to use the bathroom and I was ready to go.

At 3:50 am, DS2’s alarm clock went off. I had talked him out of the 3:36 am alarm to try to get an extra 20 minutes of sleep. We took turns using the shower and my brother was up and ready to drive us to the airport at 4:30 am.  We had a 6 am flight scheduled from Newark, NJ to Chicago.  We had no problems in the airport and soon were on the plane heading to Chicago. I blogged while traveling to Chicago. That blog can be found here.  

We traveled to Chicago on Saturday for the Graduate Open House at Columbia College of Chicago.  DS2 is interested in studying Music Composition for the Screen.  We had an excellent breakfast at  Brasserie by LM.  If you find yourself near Grant Park, the South Loop, South Wabash area of Chicago and need an excellent meal, this is the place.  The food was interesting and good. The coffee was fresh ground for my latte.  The waiter was attentive and the bathrooms were clean. What more could you want?

After breakfast we killed an hour in the car listening to music waiting for the open house to start. I shot some pictures of the area while we were killing time.

The next blog will cover the open house. 

Here are some pictures from the early part of the day (and Friday night)..  All the pictures can be found here.

Namaste

Chased by the sunrise..

Hurling west, 454 mph toward Chicago, eyes closed, IPod charged,headphones plugged in.  The opening strains of Thunder Road enter my ears. A huge smile and a slight tear forms in my eye.  Traveling Jones once again. 

A 6 am departure out of Newark (or any airport) has advantages to departures later in the day.  For one, your plane should already be there.  Another might be not having to wait to takeoff, like being number 20 in line for takeoff.

Disadvantages would include waking up at 4 am. We also watched the mobile de-icer truck spray the plane at the jet way before we could head out to the runway.  There was frost on the wings.  The jet way to A15 in Newark is decorated for Halloween.  DS2 and I got a chuckle out of the decorations.  Bravo Southwest!

Chicago beckons with the intrigue of a new college and possible graduate school for DS2.  He would like to continue his education after undergraduate graduation studying Music Composition for TV, Movies and Theater.  I think his dream job would be to write music for video games.

It is now nearly 7:20 am and the sun has not yet jumped over the horizon. I’m too cheap to purchase the WI-FI, so I will post when we land.

Namaste

10.28.13 I edited the blog to change/add pictures and fix some grammar issues. Blogging on the phone is a challenge. Thanks for reading!

Hash tag #42..

New speak or old speak, 42 in the number of miles I rode on my bicycle on Saturday.  The adventure was billed as a four-ish hour tour.  After a few missed turns due to GPS issues, I found myself exhausted, fighting the wind, ten miles from the final objective.  My cell phone was rapidly running out of juice. I was faced with calling it a day or riding on without the ability to contact my DW when I either made it to the end of the ride or just had enough. But I getting ahead of myself..

The adventure was like most grand bar schemes, dreamed up after a few beers or a glass or two of wine.  The idea, which has been brewing for the last three or four years, was to ride my bike for 50 miles. The distance seems unattainable for me. I have tried the ride to conquer that distance twice and have twice come up short.  The starting point is my home in Manahawkin and the planned end point is the Margaritaville Cafe in Atlantic City.

Due to geography and highway planning, there is no direct route to Atlantic City from my house on a bicycle. The trip involves a meandering tour of the Pine Barrens.   This summer’s bicycle riding was supposed to be the big training push for the September or October big ride. The the heart issues and life stepped in the way of my training.  I have avoided the big ride in the summer months since I tried the big ride in the summer and did not make it and ran out of drinks out in the middle of nowwhere.

I was ready Saturday. Food and drinks in my backpack and in the carriers on my bike frame. One cell phone to do the GPS navigation, one cell phone to track the ride via Map My Ride and a Ipod to provide the music.  One ear for music and one ear for directions!  What could go wrong?  Well the phone doing the GPS locked up at the first turn that I did not know. I had to stop and reboot the phone. One hour and forty-five minutes later, at another turn that I did not know, the battery on that phone went belly up.

Out of my pocket came the printed  directions.  I used the paper copy for the next 15 miles. Finally at mile 37, the phone doing the Map MY RIde app was almost dead. That was decision time. There are not any pay phones left in the world.  Maybe there are, but would you want to bet on finding one and having enough change to use it?  That was the point that I called my DW and said “Uncle”. Come and get me. I rode another 5 miles while waiting for my ride home. I did accomplish riding the longest distance for the year.

We stopped at Allan’s Clam Bar for lunch. We were only 10 miles from Margaritaville, but I was not driving there if I could not ride my bike there.  Lunch was good. Clams on the half shell, fried scallops and mussels in white wine and garlic.

I am already planning for next year.

Here are two pictures.  See the captions. Thanks for reading.

Namaste

Good and Evil Chocolate..

The holidays are coming. Maybe you want to get something for that foodie on your list. Odd, unusual, but still edible. No sense getting them something that they won’t ever eat. That would just be a waste of money.  My DW and I discovered the Anthony Bourdain show, Parts Unknown last season. The show airs on CNN on Sunday nights, 9 pm eastern. Do yourself a favor if you like travel shows, gaudy cinematography and an outspoken host, see this show. Set up the DVR and set aside an hour of your life.  Will it be the best hour of your life, maybe not, but it is always interesting.

Last season they did a show based in Peru. Part of the episode was spent with Anthony and several other men searching for the elusive Peruvian Pure Nacional cacao beans. These are the type of beans that chocolate is made from.  Watch the episode and learn about cacao farming in the Andes. The chocolate that is produced from these rare beans is available for purchase (not on Amazon, believe it or not) on the internet. The Eclat Chocolate website can be found here.

Expensive? Yes. Good, absolutely! We saw the episode and were intrigued by the people and process of the farming and the harvesting.  We got our bar via the brown truck today. At this point tonight, the bar is half gone. I think I will hide the second half so we have a treat for tomorrow night.  We we buy another bar? Probably not. We don’t have money like that.

Enough said.  Maybe you might find one of these chocolate bars under your Christmas (holiday) tree.

Namaste

ge_bar_large

Can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man..

Sunday, my brother the weatherman and I rode our bicycles in the Ataxia FARA Bike Ride outside of Philadelphia. We choose to ride the 25 mile  route. The cue sheet that was provided before hand seemed to indicate that the total elevation of the ride was 1500 feet over 25 miles. That would be a hilly course. After the ride, the Map My Ride app on my phone recorded something closer to 600 feet of elevation change. I’m not disappointed that the hills were less than we thought.  The ride was fun. The weather was ok, cloudy and cool. Just a bit breezy.

By far, the best part of the ride was the after the ride food and beverages. Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bone Fish Grill provided the food. First class, restaurant quality, all you can, food. You got your bracelet when you signed in for the ride.  The bracelet was you ticket to all the food you could eat. The beverages were provided by Victory Beer and Barefoot Wines.  There also was water and powerade. Also, all you can drink.  We both enjoyed the food and a beer or two after the ride. And, at one of the rest stops there was a tub of home-made chocolate chip cookies. I’ve never seen that before.  We will do this ride again.

My heart handled the ride just fine.  My legs held up there end as well.  I have been pushing myself a little more each week trying to figure out what my new reality is.  I could have pushed harder Sunday. I tried to push here and there and take it easy and enjoy the scenery at other times.  I took two hot yoga classes last week. One was the usual Absolute yoga class with a different teacher. The usual teacher was on vacation. The Thursday night hot yoga was a “fitness flow” class.  This means that you move a lot in the heat. That was a tough class. I survived and will go again this week.

Here are a few pictures from the ride on Sunday.  Enjoy! 

Thanks for reading.

Namaste

 

The revolving kitchen or front door…

Revolving doors, it seems like this past week we had quite a few visitors at home.  Friday I had two visits from DS1. His job sent him towards LBI first thing and then back again around lunch time. He stopped by for “the best breakfast” in the past week. We had pork roll and eggs. If you have been following along, I work from home on Fridays. He was back for lunch as well. It was nice to see him and share two meals. Half way through lunch he mentioned that he was still full from breakfast. Five minutes later he was up getting some more lunch. The cheese noodles were a hit (along with the leftover Coney Island hot dogs).

Friday night DS3 came home for the weekend. He wanted to visit with some of his high school friends for the weekend. We (DW and I) saw him for part of Friday evening and for a few hours on Saturday. He and his friends came by the house and had a fire in the backyard Saturday night. Sunday morning he  went back to school.  One walks out the door and the next walks in the door. A slightly empty nest last week. This week, no visitors so far.

DS2 and I are going to Chicago on October 26 for a graduate open house at the Columbia College of Chicago. They have a Masters program in music composition for tv, film and theatre. I have never been to Chicago.  Well, that is not true, we once stopped in Chicago flying from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Yep, think about that trip.  I have been doing some research on the school. If anyone reading this knows about the school, drop me line. I am also looking for suggestions for breakfast, dinner and a hotel either near the school (South Loop) or near Midway Airport.

At home, yoga rules the roost. Monday is hot yoga, Tuesday is adult school yoga, Wednesday is gentle yoga and Thursday is restorative yoga. Friday we drink beer.  Weekends we avoid working on the hot tub and watch some football.

Sunday I rode my bike for the first time since the beginning of August. This coming weekend we (the Weatherman and I) are scheduled to ride in Pa. I needed to work out some of the rust (in my legs). The ride went well.  We also picked late season tomatoes from the garden and made four cups of salsa, yum!

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Namaste

DS1's 25 th birthday back in July

DS1’s 25 th birthday back in July

Happy Anniversary – 29 years of marriage..

Happy Anniversary to my DW for 29 years of marriage. We were married on October 7, 1984.  How did/do you celebrate your anniversary or some other big event with your significant other?  Monday was the actual day. We both worked, came home had raviolis and meatballs for dinner. Then we went to hot yoga for 90 minutes of 105 degree sweating and breathing. After yoga we watched some tv and drank our coconut water.  11 pm was bed time. Not exactly a crazy celebration.

However, on Thursday night, we went to Atlantic City to visit the Margaritaville Café and Land Shark Landing at the Resorts Casino. Atlantic City is about 45 minutes door-to-door from our home. We rarely visit.  We are not big gamblers and with three kids facing student loans and the costs of college not covered by those loans, we pick and choose our fun expenses.  As Jimmy Buffett fans, we have tried to visit the various Margaritaville restaurants as we travel.  We decided to eat outside at the Land Shark Landing. Our table as facing the ocean. We had a good time. The waitress was attentive. The two person band did a decent job. The two artists that got the most applause were Jimmy Buffett (of course) and Pink Floyd. Go figure.

For appetizers my DW ordered the Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds. These came with a choice of dipping sauce. She choose the blueberry ketchup. Yep, blueberry ketchup. It had the consistency of blueberry jelly. It was good, I’m not sure if I would buy it for the house. I had a half-dozen oysters. Five out of six were good. I decided not to eat one of them. No big deal.

For dinner she had the fish tacos. The fish of the day was Tilapia.  I tasted her tacos, they were good. I order the Lobster Mac-n-Cheese. That was excellent. If you eat dinner there and don’t want a burger and fries, get the lobster mac-n-cheese.  We skipped dessert and wondered though the restaurant taking pictures before walking through Resorts and heading home. A good night for sure.

Our gift to ourselves is a four night, five-day trip to Tampa in late February.  Hopefully the weather will be nice that weekend.

Here is a link to the pictures from Atlantic City.  I will post a few on the bottom of this blog.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures!

Namaste

 

 

Hot tub repair, Second post..

Back on August 28, 2013 I posted the first installment of the rebuilding of our hot tub. That blog can be found here. The original blog detailed the destruction of the wooden housing for the hot tub by our cat and termites. This past weekend, some six weeks later, I am almost done rebuilding the hot tub enclosure. We (DW and I) spent three of those weekends in Scranton. The other three weekends were spent mostly avoiding the inevitable construction. As I wrote six weeks ago, my carpentry skills are not the best. I should have taken a shop class or two in high school. Most of my carpentry experience was gained as a teenage working for a construction company in the summer time.  Most of that work was dig this and move that.

Back in August I removed all the old wood. Over the last six weeks I rebuilt the frame that the exterior hangs on. All of the wood that I used is pressure treated to resist the  insects. After the enclosure was framed we got 1.5 inch think Styrofoam boards which were cut down and fitted into the wood frame.  After the insulation was done, we (DW and I) attached 5/8 x 6 pressure treated decking to the wood frame. Can you say over built? I think so. DS3 says that anything worth building is worth over-building.  In the pictures below you will see four of the final sheathing boards attached to the wood frame with the Styrofoam insulation showing.

I left the once corner un-insulated since there never was any insulation there to start with. The air that gets drawn into the hot tub enters from that corner and sealing it up tight could lead to problems. And, if and when things break, this is the area that needs to be accessible for repairs. I still have two more boards to attach to be finished. Then we are going to power wash the deck and stain the deck, the hot tub and the hot tub stairs all the same color. Hopefully this occurs before it is too cold to stain wood outside.

Enjoy the pictures, and thanks for reading!

Namaste

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