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Software development, running, music & beer

The Last Living Rose

Last night I checked out the new local high-end burger bar, Flip Side, in downtown Hudson, OH. It was pretty good, with a good craft beer draft selection. Look for a full review soon on Cleveland Hops. (UPDATE: 1/24 – My review has been posted.)

Tonight I am off for a big company winter party at some fancy hotel out on the east side. I have to get all dressed up, which I’m not a fan of. But there is lots of great food, fake gambling (for raffle tixs), and two free drinks. Woohoo! Hopefully they have a better beer selection than my wife’s company’s holiday party that had Bud Light & Heineken. Otherwise, I hope they can serve me up a White Russian. I’m not big on booze, but can’t go wrong with The Dude’s drink of choice.

So the title of this post comes from a new PJ Harvey song, from an album that comes out in a few days. I have been a big fan of hers for a long time. The video is directed by Seamus Murphy and features mostly photographs he took while travelling. Word is he is doing a video for each of the album’s 12 songs. The second video, for a song called ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’, is available already also, and is quite good as well.

PJ Harvey – The Last Living Rose from Radioalterno on Vimeo.

Hilarious

Last year, I stumbled across a great new TV show on FX (home of many great shows, I’m discovering), called ‘Louie‘ which is a semi-autobiographical show from comedian Louis CK. It took me a bit to get into his style, but I got hooked and zoomed through all the episodes quickly thereafter. Looking forward to the next season.

Last night, I watched the recently released stand-up DVD from Louis CK, called ‘Hilarious’. I got it from Netflix, and it sat on top of my TV for two weeks (which is actually much shorter than most DVDs sit in my house before being watched), only to find out today that it’s available in it’s entirety on YouTube, uncensored, and broken up into 6 parts. Here is a link to Part One (skip to 1:30 to avoid the opening credits). Not for the easily offended.

A Fresh Start

After a long layoff from blogging, I have decided to give it a try again. My first step was to move it over from Blogger to WordPress which will hopefully allow me to get a little more creative, if I choose to do so.

I have recently started blogging again over at Cleveland Hops, which is run by my friend Kyle, about my love of craft beer and my first attempts at homebrewing. But that site is obviously limited in it’s scope, so I am opening this back up to hopefully blog about some of my other interests including running, software development and music.

In regards to running, I have kind of plateaued over the past few years and am trying to finally break through and keep improving, if that’s even possible at this point. I am registered for the Cleveland Marathon and am hoping to break my now 3+ year old marathon PR. I have added spinning and yoga to my training repertoire, and am trying a new training plan to change things up quite a bit. So we’ll have to see what happens in May.

As for software development, I am kind of stuck in a rut at work doing the same things I have been doing for 5 years, and using some now dated technologies. But I have been trying to regularly attend some local user groups and try to reignite my interests in coding. I just attended the CodeMash developers conference last week and saw a lot of great presentations and talks, and it was exciting to see so many people passionate about programming.

Music has been an interest of mine for a long time, and I’m always up for sharing my latest finds with others, and learning what others are listening to. My constant search for the next great thing has kind of slowed over the past few years, but I still love finding a new act or catchy song. So look for regular posts on what I am listening to lately.

Half a year?

Wow, it’s been almost half a year since my last blog post. Between Facebook and my Twitter account, I have not felt the need to post anything here, which it seems is happening with a lot of blogs these days.

So what has been going on for me during that time? Lots of crazy hours at work to get our massive project ready for production. As of a few weeks ago, I am finally off the project which I have been on my entire time at my current company, which is almost 4 years. While I will miss the comfort of being an expert at what I was working on, I am looking forward to new challenges and getting back up-to-date with current technologies (besides a little C#, my last project mostly involved internally developed frameworks and tools).

I am also still continuing with the running. I finally managed to eek out a personal best in a race last month (at the Cleveland Half-Marathon) breaking a string of not-so-great race results. I have another half-marathon coming up in a couple weeks that is part of my trip out west to Seattle and Portland. Following that, I am planning on running the Akron Marathon in the fall. I am also going to do my one annual 5K race again in a few weeks, the Ohio City 5K.

Besides that stuff, I have just being doing stuff around the house. Despite finally getting my big HDTV, I have not been permanently fixated in front of it but have managed to finish some small projects around the house and have jumped into the world of grilling. I think I have mastered the basics at this point, and now need to try doing something more advanced.

coming to an end

This year is winding down, and I’ve been pretty bad at updating my blog. I recently started a Twitter account which, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is sort of like a mini-blog. So that has been fulfilling my need to tell the world the less-than-exciting details of my life. I also added a link along the right side of this blog (‘my twitter’) which you can expand to view my 5 most recent twitter posts.

I spent most of last week in St.Louis visiting my family. Nothing too exciting besides quality time with the fam. I did try 2 new beers which I thoroughly enjoyed. A big bottle of the Boulevard Long Strange Tripel which was excellent, along with STL’s own Schlafly Christmas Ale, which I daresay I enjoyed more than the Great Lakes Christmas Ale (not to say that I’m not still a huge fan of GL and their lovely Xmas ale).

After returning home, I’ve been trying to offset the holiday binging with some quality workouts. I did 4 miles on Saturday in our lovely 65 degree weather (despite the puddles along the towpath), 6+ miles yesterday on the indoor track at the Twinsburg Rec Center, and 5.25 miles today on the treadmill at my work fitness center, in addition to some quality elliptical time. But of course we brought home a ton of cookies from Mom which I have been unable to avoid, so some of my workouts have been canceled out fairly soon afterwards. But the running will help me get ready to start my training program next month for May’s Cleveland Half-Marathon which I’ve already registered for. Hopefully that will keep my butt moving throughout the winter, and not get as big as it might otherwise.

saved by old times

First off, I just noticed this is post #300 for me. The posts have been kind of sparse as of late, but it is nice to reach a little bit of a milestone like that.

Kristy and I just returned for the North End and their Holiday Beer Dinner. It was a five course meal, with each course paired with a holiday beer. The menu was as follows:

1. Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale w/ Homemade Pretzel with Dipping Sauces (a warm blue cheese sauce and a grainy mustard)

2. Anchor Christmas Ale 2008 w/ Shrimp Bisque

3. Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale w/ Venison, Beef, Duck Carpaccio

4. Troegs Mad Elf w/ Pork Medallions with Stuffing and Waldorf Salad

5. Bell’s Winter White Ale w/ Pumpkin Creme Brulee

The food was all excellent with the highlights being the delicious Shrimp Bisque, which was served in a clear mug, and the Pumpkin Creme Brulee was amazing. It was like a soft, creamy pumpkin pie. As far as the beers, I enjoyed them all. I think my top was the Mad Elf, a very high ABV offering that is like a belgian strong dark ale, which I had sampled once before and am now definitely a fan (and I found out Troegs, although from nearby PA, is just now started to be distributed in NE Ohio). I also really enjoyed the Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale, an amber spiced winter ale from CA.

Overall it was a really fun event, sitting around with a bunch of beer snobs in a communal sort of environment (we shared a table with some strangers which actually worked out nicely), with good service and a great, knowledgeable host. I believe that I heard they plan to hold another event like this in January, which I will definitely be attending.

real american hero

This morning I cashed in my extra hour from the time change on Sunday and woke up an hour earlier than usual (5am) in order to get out the door and go vote before work. Kristy & I made it up to the local polling place in Twinsburg by 6:15, at which point there was already a sizeable line even though things did not open until 6:30. It went fairly smoothly, though it always seems like more people than not are unsure as to which precinct they are in which leads to a lot of confusion. By the time I left, the line was probably over an hour wait for the bigger precincts, so I’m glad I rolled out of bed early.

It seems based on all of the polls that there will not be too much drama this year, but you never know. I’m hoping it does not end up being very close so that Ohio and other “battleground states” do not get thrown into the spotlight again for questionable practices and end up with tons of litigation. I am expecting there to be court orders to keep polls open late like there were in the previous election. As long as everything is sorted out and there is someone other than Bush in office during Janauary, I will be happy.

just because

Another weekend is slowly winding down. Things started off with handing out Halloween candy at our house for the first time. Fortunately Kristy did some last minute stocking up, because our initial purchases would not have been enough to cover the large numbers of kids that came by. Strangely things suddenly ended around 7:20, and we had no one until 7:55, some teenagers of course, coming by in hopes of getting everything we had left (sorry kids, I get to keep some for myself). Afterwards, we headed down the street for a little get together one of our neighbors had stopped by to invite us to. We had only met them once before, during a summer “block party”, and had gotten along but never followed it up with anything. But we were there for a few hours, had some food & beer and had a really good time. So this time we actually exchanged numbers and emails, so hopefully we will hang out again sometime in the not so distant future.

Saturday I kind of bummed around the house for most of the day, besides a trip to the fitness center to get in a four mile run. I only managed to run 67 miles in the month of October, so I’m hoping to beat that this month and lead into a strong finish to 2008 and a good start into 2009 with my running. My 1,000 mile goal is going to fall way short for the 2nd year in a row. Hopefully my third try will be the charm in ’09. In the evening, we went out to dinner at Olive Garden (thanks to my coupon clipping and needing to use a gift card from last Xmas) followed by some furniture shopping in which we found what might be our future dining room table at Macy’s. We then headed to Bricco in downtown Akron for a birthday gathering for one of Kristy’s friends. It was a pretty cool place, though we had to stand around for over a half hour waiting for them to seat us despite our reservations. Since we had already eaten earlier, we just ordered some appetizers (scallops, and a tasty goat cheese/marinara dip with fried pita). I tried 2 new beers, the Bells Third Coast Old Ale and the Southern Tier Porter, both of which I really enjoyed, particularly the Bells. We also had front row seats to the line of people waiting to get into some “ultra lounge” night club next door for a day-late Halloween party. It seemed that sexy cop & schoolgirl were the choice outfits for the evening.

Today I did next to nothing besides going to the grocery store. Kristy is very under the weather, so I’ve been hanging out with her a good part of the day. I watched a bit of the Browns game unfortunately, and saw the last rays of hope fade on their season. Hoping this week brings some good news, such as a new President-elect much unlike the guy in office now, and hopefully some more stock market recovery like we saw last week.

no more birthdays

It’s been a while since my last post. In the meantime, I turned 30. It was a pretty good birthday, besides the shock of no longer being in my 20s. Kristy & I hit up Melt in Lakewood for some brews, grilled cheese, and deep fried twinkies. My birthday continued into the past week, as she scored tickets to see David Byrne, former singer of one of my all time favorite bands, Talking Heads. It was an awesome show (see review here) with many classics, a lot of energy, and a good crowd. David Byrne put on such a great performance, and it was a real show with dancers and a large band and such. Best show I’ve been to in a long time. And to round out my birthday, the past Friday we hit up the Fall Beer Fest as the Heinen’s in Brecksville. 36+ craft & import beers, gourmet appetizers, cheese & sushi, and a crowd of beer snobs. It was a great event and I got to try many beers which I had never heard of, and found quite a few excellent brews that I hope to enjoy again sometime in the future. It is a great event for only $25, that I highly recommend to all Cleveland-area beer lovers, as I think they have one every 3 months or so.

Other than that, not too much going on. I was initially excited about this year’s baseball playoffs, but never ended up watching any. I am very much looking forward to the election being over next week, as I am beyond sick of all things political. I’ve been hot and cold with my running lately. One week I’ll be totally inspired and get in a few great runs, and the next week I’ll struggle with getting in just one run for the week. Still trying to break out of this year-long running slump I’m mired in. But hey, I’m married now….I can just let myself go and get fat and out of shape, right?

empty seats

Sorry for the lack of posts. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been semi-sick with a cold, which has been extremely annoying. I’m to the point where I almost hope I get full blown sick in hopes that it can finally go away then. These 30-degree temps at night haven’t been helping me feel any better. I’m not ready for winter to begin the first week into October.

Kristy did awesome in her half-marathon last Saturday in Akron. She finished in 2:22, which is quite a bit under the 2:30 pace that she targeted with her training program. She is fairly happy with the result, and is already looking forward to her next one, which is still to-be-determined.

I’ve been trying to catch some of the baseball playoffs, though everything is a disappointment so far except for Tampa Bay. As much as I wanted CC & the Brewers to do well, I oddly ended up feeling slightly happy when I heard that he choked again. It would be a hard pill to swallow if he carried the Brewers on his back to the World Series after not showing up for the Indians last postseason.

Most of this weekend is going to be spent painting in the basement. Our basement is currently an eye-hurting shade of fluorescent green as it was apparently a children’s play area for the previous owners. And with the first brush of paint, the conversion of the basement to man cave will begin. I already have what Kristy has termed the “man room”, a large 4th bedroom which I’ve taken over as my office/tv room, but it’s time I add a cave to my collection. She can have the rest of the house.