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Archive for the 'Travel' Category

2006.12.08 lazy day in old st. lou:

so, i'm up here with my lovely wife, doing her res. interview at WashU. i'm just chillin in the hotel room, shooting at my co-workers with the 2006 Power Treecam—a brilliant idea by yours truly, brilliantly embellished and executed by our boy ben.

i've run over to the St. Louis Bread Co., where I got the skinny on the fact that the national chain Panera Bread (as known to most of us) was actually originally the aforementioned St. Louis Bread Co. I picked up my breakfast there (croissant, cinnamon roll, and coffee) and they gave me a soufflé for free.

I've spent most of the morning upgrading our WordPress installation to 2.0.5, and just installed the wordpressReports plugin, so we can see just how many people aren't coming to visit the site to enjoy the dearth of updates.

and now, i'm going to watch the Special Edition DVD of Star Trek III, which my buddy nate so thoughtfully gave to me on my most recent birthday. thanks again, nate!

- 04:37 pm - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Birthday - Computers/Tech - Cool Links - Friends - Happy/Love - Movies - Personal Projects - Pop Culture - Travel - Wife - Work


2006.05.22 joyeux anniversaire:

it seems almost inconceivable, but today marks the sixth anniversary of the first post on bipolar. of course, that post was pretty much just a test post, but no matter. and it's also not to say that bipolar has enjoyed much life in the last year. out of the last 10 months, it seems i've only successfully posted in three of them. brian has fared a little better, posting in four out of the last 10 months.

i suppose this is one of the reasons why blogging has gone the way it's gone… the only people who can effectively keep it going are the ones who are getting paid for it.

nevertheless, brian and i are still here, still putting up stuff when we can find time to do it.

now, in honor of our anniversary, and anniversary posts past (which, on review, I've realized were fewer and farther between than I'd have hoped) here's a brief recap:

a few things I didn't mention, or barely mentioned were the births of my goddaughter�sara's niece emma�and my first nephew, reuben. of course, now I have four nieces and a nephew, and they are all uniquely adorable.

sara's almost finished her third year of med school, and is looking forward to getting a greater concentration in her chosen field of pediatrics here in the upcoming fourth year.

lastly, a large chunk of my friends, those from the core murray group, are finally getting themselves married off. brax this past month, and nate and the puffin in very short order.

six years covers a lot of ground in the lives of 20 somethings to 30 somethings. i do wish i could have chronichled more of the last year, but i suppose it's better to live a life you've no time to write about, than to have tons of time to write about the life you wish you had. six years has seen me go from a time of insecurity (personally, financially, professionally), to the complete opposite. I've gone from waiting for my life to get started, to realizing that it already has. and even better than that, I'm happy.

- 12:17 pm - PL :: 1 Comment
categories ::  Bipolar: Anniversary - Ex-Girlfriends - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Nostalgia - Travel - Wedding - Wife


2006.05.05 life is unreality:

things are starting to settle down now, but for a week or so there, i felt like i was living in an alternate reality.

Reuben Smilessara and i took our little vacation to d.c. to visit my sister and her family. it was a good time, and it was awesome to finally meet reuben, even though he's still too little to do much more than cry, eat, smile, and look around a lot. of course, i spent most of my time trying to get him to smile. at least partly because if he was smiling, he wasn't crying. sara and i got to babysit a couple days, so it was nice to get that much time with him.

me and emmaemma (2, and cute as a button) has day care, so we didn't get to spend as much time with her. of course, she's also more interactive, so our time with her was more fun. she sings random songs, sometimes real songs, sometimes made up. she speaks very well in complete sentences, but she sometimes goes off on a tangent in emmish. i sometimes wonder if she's not going to be totally screwed up because her mother speaks five languages (though obviously not all at once.)

it was awesome to get to spend so much time with them, and of course, to get a vacation from work, life, and all that jazz. we didn't do much sightseeing, but mainly hung around their house enjoying the fact that we didn't have to work.

things really took a turn to the surreal when, not 10 minutes after getting home after our flight back, we were driving to the car dealership to pick up sara's new car. it's a long story how we got to the decision to get her a new car, but suffice it to say we thought it the best option. so, we fly into town, buy her car, then spend the next several hours (of the same night) attempting to teach her how to drive a manual… well, that, and trying to assuage her fears about never being able to figure it out.

to really keep the financial chaos meter buried in the red, the next day i went in to sign the paperwork for a loan to buy out the lease on my car. combine these with some of the other financial goings-on, and i was really feeling there for a while that i was just dragging home fat sacks of cash and tossing them down a sinkhole in my backyard.

things have stabilized now, and i'm not feeling like some kind of body snatcher pod person; but man all this "real life" stuff gets to be a little much at times, doesn't it?

after all this, and since our friend lori's baby shower didn't quite come to fruition, we ended up going up to my parent's farm (formerly grandma's farm) in virginia. my grandma's feeling much better, and is back home again, though she has to get dialysis 3 times a week. it was really awesome to see her looking like her normal self again, and i was glad that we had the opportunity to visit now that she's feeling better. also, my sis and her family were all going to be there, so this was another good opportunity to see them one last time (most likely) before they fly off to the other side of the world.

grandma and reubenit was a great visit. probably the most difficult thing was watching my grandma with reuben when they were about to leave. i can only imagine what she was thinking, but i know her hands were trembling and she was trying not to cry. i hope reuben gets the opportunity to see his great-grandma again, but if that's not possible, i hope some subconscious part of him remembers that moment.

as much as i might have rebelled against them, as much as i struggled for the independence and individual identity that i value without regrets, i love my family. even though i never see, and feel disconnected from my family on dad's side, i love them too. from my point of view, the three most important things in the world are family, friends, and self(-identity,-sufficiency,-responsibility,-worth). each of us is a nexus of those three things, fed by and providing for them.

well, i don't really want to get off on some philosophical tanget, so i'll just stop there. nevertheless, family = important.
also important is communication, which i think i've done just about enough of for this post. in closing, i'll just leave you with a link to the gallery with the latest photos concerning recent events.

- 03:30 pm - PL :: 4 Comments
categories ::  Family - Happy/Love - Travel


2006.04.20 catching up is hard to do:

so, now that all that boring relaunch related stuff is out of the way, it's high time I sit down for a real post�the obligatory "catch-up" post.

when we last spoke, i was hot in the middle of procrastinating on my novel for National Novel Writing Month, particularly by brushing down this old horse. now, we've gone all the way through winter and come out the other side, the spring storms are tearing at our shutters, and the grass is growing faster than I can push the lawn mower.

on the plus side, we've got central heat & air installed in our little home now, so I'm not going to have to drag out those loud obnoxious window units. of course, this just means that now we'll have to bicker about temperature more, since we no longer have room-by-room control�no big deal.

Emma throws rocksthe next exciting thing on our schedule is a trip to DC�we'll be heading up there to visit our new nephew (and the rest of his family) for a few days. i've said this to a few people before, but i'll say it here again… it's so strange that little Reuben hardly seems real to me at this point. when Emma was born, my sister & bro-in-law took pictures of her daily, and sent digests weekly via email, so i was intimately connected�at least through pictures�with her growth and development. she seemed real to me even before I met her.

with Reuben, it's different. Sara and Andrew haven't been taking pictures daily, or at least not sending them out weekly if they have. maybe because they're now living in the states, they feel the need is lessened, but his family is still in NZ, so it'd still be important. maybe because they're both much busier than they were when Emma was born�both working, trying to raise two kids now instead of just one. but for whatever reason, lack of evidence, lack of contact, whatever, the new kid just seems more like an idea than an actual physical entity. this is, of course, why we're so excited that we get to go to DC to finally meet him.

Reuben and Emmaand even more important, this could be our only chance to see him (and the rest of the family) for several years. with sis (and possibly bro-in-law) going into the foreign service, they might be out of the country pretty-much until they retire. obviously, they'll visit us and we'll visit them, but those opportunities will be few and far between.

i may have gotten used to seeing my sister (and her new family) only infrequently over the last 10 years or so, but that doesn't mean i have to like it.

- 12:13 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Happy/Love - Travel


2005.07.06 now, back to your previously scheduled reality:

as you might have guessed, there's been so much going on in my world of late, i can hardly keep my head on straight, much less figure out what to write about. first and most importantly, the wedding was awesome, and married life thus far has been challenging, interesting, enjoyable, and fun (not necessarily in that order). to read more about the wedding itself, check the last post on the wedding website.

after the honeymoon (which we both enjoyed the hell out of and wished never to return from), we've been busy trying to dig ourselves out from under all the crap that got piled into our house the following week–mainly wedding presents, but also all her stuff when we finally got her (almost completely) moved in. things are settling out, finding their places, and we're getting the house in order (have i typed/said this a million times already? it sure seems that way… oh well, i'm nothing if not consistent) i've been too busy and distracted the last few months and in the weeks since the wedding to even really think about getting a bunch of pictures online, but i did manage a few of the simpler smaller sets. wedding/honeymoon pics will follow as soon as i can get them whipped into shape.

one set i did manage to get online are the ones of our new kittens! artemis and apollo are about as cute as kittens can be, but ari was a bit sick the first few days… we're still having to give her some anti-biotics, but i think she's feeling much better. of course, they're both turning out to be little shits, running around like crazy, knocking stuff over, scratching the shower curtain… y'know being kittens, essentially. we're trying to "train" them, but as you'd expect, it's hard to control them when you're not home–they tend to do whatever they like, which usually involves something potentially destructive.

the other gallery i got up was some of the pics from my new phonecam.

generally, things are great, and we're gearing up for our first big party this weekend–something i've been itching for for quite some time.

- 05:07 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Travel - Wedding - Wife


2005.06.10 anxious/nervous/excited

the day is almost upon us. tomorrow +3 hours from now, i will be married and beginning the next phase of my life. it'll be weird to share a house with someone again, but i'm looking forward to having Sara there all the time.

amazingly enough, i haven't really been nervous or apprehensive about the whole thing until about… oh, 10 minutes ago. i think my nervousness mainly stems from the confluence of events and things that have to happen in the next 24 hours to pull this thing off. plus, we're taking a weeks vacation, and i always feel like i'm leaving something undone in the days/hours leading up to a departure. and there are so many things to leave undone. of course, none of them cannot be picked up when we return, but it's the reality of leaving things in a half-done state that is a bit nerve-wracking.

while we're gone, my laptop will be in the shop, the electrician will be roaming about the house bug-bombing the crawlspace and grounding all our outlets. seems like there should be more going on than that… amazing how the mind blows things out of proportion at the slightest provocation.

nevertheless, i'm trying to maintain my focus on Sara and enjoying the proceedings. tomorrow is all about me & her, so i want to make sure we're not losing perspective with all the other stuff going on.

and despite that selfish focus, i'm sincerely looking forward to being able to get all my friends and family, and new extended family under one roof, and to be able to see and talk to as many of them as possible, especially those i don't get to see very often (which is pretty much everybody, considering our social calendar of late).

so, i'm excited, i'm nervous, i'm anxious, and i'm focused (or trying to be) on the things about this next 30 hours that are the most meaningful. all-in-all i suppose i'm pretty much the typical husband-to-be.

wish us luck!

completely unrelated link: Technorati Profile

- 10:42 am - PL :: 3 Comments
categories ::  Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Travel - Wedding - Wife


2005.05.12 a dam bursts:

holy cow. i swore (to myself) i'd stop mentioning with every new post how long it's been since the last one, but jeeze louise, i'm making history here! a whole month gone by without a single post in it, and just over two months since my last post! it's a bipolar first folks (and hopefully a last). i'm going to have to fix the archive index script (see way below) to skip April 2005 for me… weird.

anyway. as you might have guessed by my last few posts, and by my (even for me) uncharacteristic silence, i have been bizz-eee… no, not even that, i've been extremely fucking BUSY for too damn long now. let's recap, shall we?

1) finally bought a house.
2) closed on the house and moved out of the old apartment
4) slowly began to see light again
5) started writing this post

i think somewhere in there around 3 and 4, Sara and i spent a bunch of money buying stuff for the house, she had a couple of bridal showers, so we got crap-loads of gifts, i've been doing honest-to-god yard-work, washing a crap-load of dishes (no dishwasher), trying to get my stuff organized and put away, trying to finish the wedding website, trying to finalize wedding plans, trying not to go insane.

we're getting a load of brick today… how incredibly surreal and weirdly pedestrian and adult-like is that? i spent 8 hours on sunday outside… my world is currently sitting directly on its head.

the work roller-coaster was barely noticed (by me, anyway… Sara would've been freaking out if she hadn't had to study so much for finals), in that my 1 year contract expires at the end of the month… but my newly minted boss finally managed to push the paperwork through for a 6 month extension, so i'm gainfully employed until… er… christmas time.

all this, and the wedding is only… 4 weeks away. i'm not consumed with fear or anxiety yet, so that's a good thing. and hell, i'm looking forward to being able to get away from all this recent hubbub for a week and just enjoy *life* (and being married) for a moment without having to deal with anyone or anything else.

but i'm glad my sis, a new foreign service initiate, is coming into town this weekend and bringing that cute niece of mine with her. and she'll actually be staying in the states most of the year as she does her FS training, so it's conceivable we could see her more than twice in the next six months. and then, of course, she'll ship off to some foreign land, and we'll be hard-pressed to even get to see her once a year.

and my darling has successfully completed her 2nd year of med school and is even now studying for her first set of boards. i think we'll have at most a week after we get back from the honeymoon before she has to start her first rotation. thankfully she managed to get it set up so she doesn't have to leave town to do a rotation for a while.

and last, but not least, after giving up my precious kitties to Paul and Allison, and having been in the house for a month and getting it mostly whipped into shape, Sara and I are looking for two little kitties of our own. we want babies, and we'd like them to be litter-mates, but we are a bit flexible on that last bit.

and thanks to everybody for their well-wishes and congratulations re: the house. we're hoping to have a house-warming party soon, and i'll make sure to mention it here unless anybody out in the wide world has an opportunity to make it down for a weekend (pre-wedding, i'm hoping)

oh, one more thing… i just launched the wedding website yesterday, so go check it out!

- 05:50 pm - PL :: 10 Comments
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Calls to Action - Cool Links - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Love Life - Personal Projects - Travel - Wedding - Wife - Work - x:13 Family


2005.01.25 rio, montego? oh, no:

sara and i finally decided on our honeymoon destination: Amelia Island, FL. promises to be relaxing, exciting, and enjoyable. now we just gotta find us a money tree.

we also finally figured out just how much we're willing to spend on a house, so that search will pick up speed (which is good, since the lease at my, Paul, and Allison's place is up approximately April-ish). wish us luck.

and finally, if you haven't checked out Battlestar Galactica you are doing yourself a grave misservice. if you like Sci-Fi at all, i mean even the slightest bit, you must watch this show. pick up the miniseries, download the first three episodes (or all 12 that've been released in the UK already) and plop your ass down in front of the tube for a while. it's worth every minute.

- 01:18 am - PL :: 8 Comments
categories ::  Calls to Action - Cool Links - Friends - Happy/Love - Pop Culture - Raves - Travel - TV - Wedding - Wife


2005.01.05 another one's just begun:

so, Jan 2002 was the last time i did a year end recap post, and i've kicked myself every time i've forgotten. so, here goes…

setting the tone for a large percentage of the posts to follow (and the year to follow, natch.), my first post of 2004 (even worse than this one, at 17 days after the new year) jumped headlong into politics and razzing george w., and also mentioned some stuff about the gallery scripts, both of which practically became an obsession for me.

also, i think this was the first year where i've managed to post only once a majority of the months out of last year.

anyway, some major events happened this year, the first of which was deciding (not that i had to think very hard about it) to ask my girlfriend of 1.5 years to be my wife, then throwing down the bones for a ring.

of course, no sooner had i bought the ring, than my boss at work called me in to tell me the place was shutting down. luckily, i landed a new job before the last one was over, so i had something to come back to upon return from the trip to France Sara & i had been planning.

we left for France on schedule, me with a diamond ring hidden–wrapped in paper, taped to a fob on my keychain–so it wouldn't get lost with or stolen from the luggage, and so she wouldn't find it if she were to rummage through my carry-on. we had a first day in Paris that ranged from great to horrible, then woke up fresh-faced the next day ready (well, except that she didn't know about it yet) for the event that would alter our lives in subtle and profound ways. in the afternoon, i rummaged through my backpack for the ring, dropped to a knee, and asked her to marry me. of course, she said yes.

after this event, life carried on–settling into the new job, more politics, more gallery scripts, helping her cope with school, adjusting to the idea of being married, making wedding plans, making other future-oriented plans, looking for houses, talking about finances/money/retirement savings (sheesh). i'm startin' to feel all growed-up.

then of course, there was the travesty we called an Election…

and now Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year as well. it's time to hunker down and make preparations for tomorrow. time to think about the things we want in life, the things we can have, and how to correlate the two. don't make resolutions, just do what needs to be done, do what you enjoy, and do the best you can for yourself and others. none of us are at the mercy of our surroundings, rather, it's the other way around. grab hold of yourself and make this year a better one than the last. call up a friend, go to a movie, bake yourself a cake, quit smoking, just be happy.

- 05:19 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Bipolar: Year End Recap - Happy/Love - Love Life - Nostalgia - Politics - Society - Travel - Wife - Work


2004.07.01 notes from the underground:

speaking of paris, one of the things i enjoyed the most while i was there both times was the metro. i'm not entirely sure why it fascinates me, but there just seems to be something inherently captivating about it. perhaps it's the unique character of each station, the interesting people you'll see, the performers (which we saw much more of this time around than i did last time), or even the occasional ride where you'll pop out of the tunnels and ride around above the city for a while…

none of those is exclusive to the paris metro i'd imagine, though i don't recall seeing any performers in the metro in D.C., and i don't recall the stations there having any particularly unique character. anyway, i stumbled across my gallery. one of the most recent posts talk about a particular section of transfer tunnels, and he's even got a really cool pictorial tour from one end to the other.

i'll get back to talking about *our* trip soon, i kind of wanted the shock from the fact that i posted the other day to wear off a bit before i put another monster out there.

- 04:21 pm - PL :: 7 Comments
categories ::  Bipolar: News - Cool Links - Personal Projects - Travel