Tag Archives: New York

Bike Tour of New York

This past Monday there were two new members added to my team at work. After getting to know one of them -Jordan- pretty well, we decided to go on a bike ride that Saturday, ie. today. Being that Jordan is from Ohio, he was not super familiar with New York and so we decided to go on a tour.

IMG_3427Riding with no handlebars on the Hudson River Greenway

We met up in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 11am. After talking over a very rough game plan, we hopped on our bikes and began our ride. We made our way down Flatbush Ave, up Fulton Street and up Adams Street to get to the first thing Jordan wanted to do, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, be it by foot or by bike (oddly I’ve never done it in a car), is always a nightmare. Unlike the Manhattan or the Williamsburg which separate the cyclists and the pedestrians on opposite sides of the bridge, the Brooklyn only has one path in the middle, forcing foot traffic and bike traffic to compete for space.

We stopped at the end of the first span to not only take a short break, but to take in the sights around us. To my pleasant surprise, though there were still a fair share of dummies, the traffic on the bridge was not as bad as it has been in past crossings.

After successfully making it into Manhattan, we took Centre Street to Grand. We headed East on Grand then turned North on Columbia Street and eventually East on Houston to get to the East River Bikeway. While on the bikeway we cut over to the East River Promenade where we stopped and took a break and chatted on a bench for a bit.

After the short break we got back on our bikes and took the bikeway all the way up to 34th Street where we hopped onto 1st Ave. We headed North up 1st Ave to the Queensborough Bridge, and, after going under it, headed West on 61st Street.

I was hungry, having skipped breakfast, so we stopped into Viand Coffee Shop on the corner of 61st and Madison. I had French toast and Canadian bacon and Jordan got soup, a salad and some coffee. After filling up over some good conversation, we hopped on the bikes again and made our way in to Central Park.

We did almost a full loop of Central Park, stopping once so Jordan could get info on joining this mens baseball team. While approaching Columbus Circle, Jordan asked if it was in fact Columbus Circle. I told him it was and asked if he wanted to check it out. He did and so we exited out the South West corner of Central Park.

After taking a few pictures we discussed our options. I suggested either Columbus Ave or Broadway to head back South. Jordan wanted to check out the Hudson River Greenway. Since I had done all of the aforementioned options and genuinely had no preference as to what we did, we decided to check out the Hudson River Greenway.

We biked along the path and stopped briefly to make note of a “Free Kayaking” sign so we, or he, or I could come back at some time to try it out. We kept riding and stopped briefly again to admire the Intrepid Museum. We unofficially discussed coming back at some point to check it out.

There, Jordan mentioned the IKEA river ferry which leaves from Pier 11 and is free on weekends. We mounted our steeds and continued South down the greenway. It’s crazy how quickly you can eat up 60 some odd blocks because before I knew it, we were at Battery Park. We stopped and sat on chairs under the shade of a tree where we chatted and I drank one of the cans of green tea I’d brought.

After a little break we headed onward to Pier 11. However, upon arriving there, we found out that the ferry was not running. We then made our way to Fulton Street in the Seaport district. There we came across Seaport Summer, an event I’ve been wanting to check out/take part in ever since stumbling across it on a previous bike ride.

Jordan asked if I wanted a beer on him and, though I hate feeling like I owe people money, I kind of couldn’t refuse. Though I typically like going on rides alone, it was nice to do this one with Jordan. After sitting and chatting and drinking for a bit, we headed onward, back into Brooklyn, to our final destination, Buffalo Exchange.

Once again we crossed the dreaded Brooklyn Bridge, but soon we were in Brooklyn and then Buffalo Exchange. Jordan was in search of a cheap denim jacket he could cut the sleeves off of to turn into a vest and make a Suicycles patch for so that he could be part of the bike gang; our fourth member.

After doing a bit of “man shopping,” ie. a quick overview of the few options available and no frivolous wandering, we headed out, empty handed. We then made one more stop, Jordan’s apartment. I locked my bike in his lobby and checked out his apartment for a short while before finally making my way back to my own apartment.

According to Jordan’s bike computer at the end of the day we covered ~30 miles. It was a lot of fun riding together. We seemed to have a similar idea of where we wanted to go/what we wanted to do and we rode at the same pace.

Neither of us complained about the length of the ride, we both clearly were at the same skill set- in terms of not being afraid to ride in traffic and what not. It was cool to take a few breaks and sit and take in the moment, rather than rush through it like I usually do.

To paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, “[Jordan], I think this is the beginning of a beautiful [bromance].”

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Six Flags Great Adventure

I’ve been to Six Flags Great Adventure four times in my life. The first was when I was fairly young and I don’t remember it at all. The next two times were in 2005 when the ride Kingda Ka was made. The first 2005 trip ended in a bad experience because Kinda Ka was having technical difficulties. I then convinced my Dad later that summer to take me and my cousin back with, essentially the sole purpose of riding Kingda Ka.

We went all the way back, a six hour drive down to New Jersey, only to find that once again Kingda Ka was closed! However it eventually opened towards the end of the day and after 3 and half hours in line, we had finally conquered the (at the time) tallest and fastest coaster in the world.

IMG_7280Kingda Ka/Zumanjaro

Cut to 2017 and it’s been 12 years since I’ve been to this park. After moving to NY I searched how long of a ride it was from the city to the park. As it turned out, it was only an hour and a half away. And so, last Sunday I hopped on the NJ transit bus from Port Authority in Manhattan to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

We arrived at SFGA at ~10:00am and waited in a fairly long line to go through security. Being that I had my backpack, I had to wait in a longer line which took forever because that had to search everyone’s bag. When they got to mine, the security guy found the opened green tea I had been hiding. He told me I needed to dump it out into a bucket.

“If it wasn’t opened,” he said, “you could have kept it.” I was so pissed because I had only had one sip of the drink. Not only did it mean I no longer had my green tea, it also meant that had spent X amount of money which I was now literally throwing away, but it also meant waste of a perfectly good bottle of green tea. I hate wasting things. This was strike one.

After going through security I then had to wait in another line to get my ticket scanned. This was super annoying but at ~10:45am I finally got into the park. The first thing I did was to run to Kingda Ka. When I got there however, I was stopped by the fact that you could not bring bags or any loose items into the line. Instead you had to place your items in lockers.

This is already annoying enough but at least at other parks you go to that make you do this you get to put items in for free. At this park, you get squeezed for every dollar they can get and it’s a dollar each time you have to place your items in the locker. The locker is only good for 2 hours. After that it’s an additional dollar per hour. This is simply “highway robbery” because they know they have you by the balls. This was strike two.

I begrudgingly paid the $1 and got in line. To my pleasant surprise, the wait time was only ~10 minutes, a far cry from that first 3 and a half hour wait in 2005. After riding Kingda Ka, I got back in line and rode it again, this time with a ~15 minute wait. I then made my way over to Zumanjaro.

Zumanjaro is a simple elevator drop ride. It was built onto the front structure of Kingda Ka in 2014. It is, apparently, the tallest (at 415 feet) and fastest (at 90mph) drop ride in the world! I typically hate these rides because I really don’t like heights, but yet I love roller coasters… go figure. However, because this one doesn’t launch you from the bottom, it actually wasn’t bad.

Also, because it is attached to Kingda Ka, it somehow makes it feel less heigh. I took the age old advice of “don’t look down” and it truly worked. Instead, I looked up to see how close to the top we were. Once at the top I looked out over Six Flags before dropping five seconds later. All in all not bad.

IMG_7258El Toro

After that I retrieved my backpack from the locker and went over to El Toro. El Toro was being built the year we went to SFGA twice. It opened a year later in 2006 and has been voted the number one wooden coaster in the world two years in a row. I paid another dollar to put my bag in another locker before getting in line for the ride.

El Toro did not disappoint. It was by far one of the smoothest, if not the smoothest wooden coaster I’ve ever been on. It also has the second biggest drop of any wooden coaster at 176 feet and one of the steepest drops at 76 degrees. It’s also the 4th fastest at 70mph. However, what I thought was really cool was the speed of the lift hill. At 13mph it gets you to the top in no time at all.

After riding “the bull” I went over to Medusa, er, I mean Bizzaro. Formerly know as Medusa, Bizzaro is was repainted and renamed for the 2008 season and theming objects were added. It really does nothing for the ride but I can now say I’ve ridden this floorless coaster with two different names. B&M rides never fail to deliver fun, smooth rides.

I then grabbed my bag from the second locker and got overpriced Mexican food for lunch. After eating lunch, I made my way over to the Green Lantern coaster. Placed in the spot where The Great American Scream Machine used to stand, Green Lantern was relocated from Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and renamed; it was formerly called Chang.

I was really excited to ride it because I’d never been on it before and because it was only going to be the third stand up coaster I’ver ever been on. However, upon my arrival, it was closed. This was strike three. I was pretty bummed about all of these things and though they may seem minuscule, they cumulatively made for a fairly bad experience.

Disappointed, I then made my way to the other end of the park where I put in my third dollar for the day. There I rode The Dark Knight. This is, arguably the best themed ride in the park. I say that very loosely because it is barely themed. It has a pre-ride show and, because you are supposed to be riding on Gotham City Transit, the queue is subway themed and the cars look like subway trains.

This ride is nothing more than an indoor wild mouse coaster with some lighting and theming objects. It replaced the defunct Batman and Robin: The Chiller for the 2008 season. Sadly, I only ever got to ride Robin in 2005, the Batman side was closed.

After riding The Dark Knight I went over to perhaps my favorite ride in the park, Nitro. Nitro is another B&M coaster, this one however is a hypercoaster with a 215 foot drop. Nitro never fails to be thrilling and enjoyable. After Nitro I rode Batman The Ride, a compact inverted coaster. The ride it so short that the long line did not really justify the wait but oh well, another one to check off the list.

Cut to a montage of me looking at the map, strolling around aimlessly and eventually taking the Skyway gondola. The thing that really sucked about having to pay for locker each time, on top of the cost, was the inconvenience. It was so annoying to not be able to just place your stuff on the other side of the track and pick it up when you got off.

IMG_7248Six Flags Great Adventure as seen from the Skyway gondola

I get that it probably messes with load times but it is ultimately an easier system. It basically made me not want to ride as many rides because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. For example, I didn’t ride Skull Mountain because I didn’t want to pay a dollar to ride it. Its a fun stupid little coaster but it’s not worth a dollar. Being that going on rides is the whole reason I went to the park, it kind of put a damper on the whole day.

When I got to the other side, I put my bag in a locker… again, before riding El Toro one last time. At an hour and a half, this was my longest wait of the day. The ride was having problems, than ran few trains empty to test them and eventually they had to take 15 to 20 minutes to swap one of the trans off. This meant running a one train operation.

The down side to this was that ranter than loading on train while the other was running, they could only load the train once it was back in the station. This essentially doubled the wait time for the ride. However, as before, it delivered and I was glad I got in two rides on it.

After that I basically had to play the waiting game. The bus back to New York wasn’t set to arrive until 9:30pm and it was only about 7:30pm. I was essentially done for the day, tired and a little depressed. Eventually, after going back and forth for a while I bit the bullet an paid the $12! for a chicken sandwich.

As I exited the park with my overpriced food to wait for the bus, I contemplated dumpster diving through the recycling bucket for my green tea. I bet, if they hadn’t emptied the bucket throughout the day, that it was still in there. That said, it was probably sticky and gross so I decided against it.

As I waited for the bus, I reflected on the day. I thought about the fact that overall, I had a fairly mediocre experience. It really bummed me out because it made me think that I’m getting too old or too jaded for theme parks, something I used to love. Maybe if I’d gone with a friend or bought a locker at the beginning of the day or not had to throw out my green tea or spend so much money it would have been a better experience, I don’t know.

The last thing that bummed me out was that fact that I missed the first bus -my own fault, I refused to wait in the line- and so I had to get on the second one, which stopped in NJ first before going to NY, making the trip that much longer. On top of that, the driver didn’t even collect my bus ticket. Why did I bother paying for a round trip ticket if I could have snuck on for free?

Overall the day was fine, but it may mark the end of an era for theme parks for me, #sad.

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Pool Hopping

The last time I was living in New York, I, for whatever reason, got the idea that I wanted to find a hotel pool to sneak into as a means of a) doing something fun and b) beating the heat without having to go to the beach.

Thus, a quick Google search lead me to a list of NY hotel pools and how to sneak into them. Fast forward to present day and the idea resurfaced in my brain. Knowing that it was a super low risk “crime” and that I had nothing better planned for this weekend, I decided to go for it.

IMG_7183Pool at the Millennium Hilton; spoiler alert… I got in!

I thought that the best place to start would be the top of the list. In addition to knowing exactly where the Millennium Hilton is, the article I found made it seem very easy to sneak into.

After getting off at Fulton Street Station, I walked the very short distance to the Hilton. I decided to enter through the side entrance as to draw less attention to myself. I had my headphones on and my sunglasses too. I walked straight to the elevator and pressed the call button. Moments later my ride was there.

I got in, thankfully alone, and pressed 4. According to the article, the pool was on the 4th floor. However, when I arrived, I was greeted with a hallway filled with business centers. I nervously paced back and forth down the corridor. Was there a different elevator shaft I needed to take?

The only other rooms I saw were labeled “Staff”. I had a feeling that any second a staff member was going to pop out and I’d be busted. I found a nearby bathroom and collected my thoughts.

No one knows you’re not a guest at the hotel. You have yet to give them a reason to suspect you aren’t a guest. Even if you get caught, the worst that will happen is they’ll kick you out.

Relaxed, I got in a different elevator. Again it was empty and as the door closed, I scanned the buttons to see if any were labeled. Then, out to the corner of my eye, I spotted a plaque with a list of amenities and what floor they were on; “Fitness Center” Floor 5.

The article had screwed up the floor number. I pressed 5 and was pleased when the door opened one floor later to smell chlorine. I was in the right place.I walked around the corner and down the hall to find a glass door leading to an empty reception desk, just as the article said. Beyond the desk was the pool, I was home free.

As I entered the pool room I saw two life guards sitting on the chairs at the shallow end of the pool. They were twenty-something year old dudes who were just talking and looking at their phones. They were also fully clothed so even if there was an emergency and they needed to do actual life guarding, they would have been pretty useless.

I casually walked over to an empty seat, took off my backpack, took off my headphones, took off my shoes, took off my shirt, slipped off my basketball shorts, under which was my bathing suit and walked down the stairs of the shallow end into the pool. I did it!

Being that it was around 11am the only other people in the pool were a young, roughly my age couple, and a grandmother with her granddaughter. The pool was heated, as I hoped it would be, and after maybe 20 minutes of swimming around, the young couple left. A short while after that, the grandmother and granddaughter got out too.

For a short while I had the whole place to myself. After that a mother and her teenage daughter came in. And after that two women maybe five years older than me came in. At around noon I decided to bail. The thrill of sneaking around was sort of gone and because I was by myself and the pool was… just a pool, I was getting bored.

Though I’d brought my own, I grabbed an unused hotel towel off the seat next to mine, grabbed my bag and went into the bathroom/changing room. I toweled off and changed back into my regular clothes. I then dropped my used towel in the hamper and made my way out.

As I was leaving, I pushed the glass door to exit. However, I didn’t remember having to push it open to enter. Had it been left ajar? I pulled on it to see if I could get back in but it had locked behind me. I glanced over to the wall and sure enough there was a key card reader.

Either I had gotten lucky and the door had not been shut fully OR it was wide open when I got there OR the hotel staff waits until later in the day to activate the key car reader.

Either way it was pretty lucky that the door wasn’t lock when I’d arrived or I’d have been boned. I probably could have waited for another guest to arrive or something, but still, it would have put a serious monkey wrench in the plan.

So, two things I learned, 1) the pool is on the 5th floor, not the 4th and 2) you may need to procure a key card, or find someone with a key card in order to gain access to the pool if the glass door is not left open/unlocked. Other than that it’s smooth swimming.

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Pedal Pushers Club

For those who don’t know I recently moved back to New York after having been away for almost two years. This time however, rather than flying by the seat of my pants, I relocated because of work.

However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Just as was the case the last time I was here, today I attended Bike Expo New York. Like last time, there were basically just a bunch of booths trying to sell you bike related gear and what not.

NYC_manhole_1024x1024Not the shirt I bought

This time, though I didn’t walk away with a free Kryptonite lock, I did buy a couple pieces of swag. The main piece I want to talk about is a t-shirt I bought from a company called Pedal Pushers Club.

Let me start by saying that the last thing I need is another fucking t-shirt. That said, this one is pretty dope. This company specializes in making bike themed t-shirts. They do them for a lot of major cities.

The last time I lived here I wanted something, a shirt or hat, that represented Brooklyn. Well this time I got something. I highly reccomend checking them out as they make some really sweet designs.

Oh, and I almost forgot, because they were selling them at the Expo, they did a discount. Rather than costing $25 it only cost me $20. Hard to pass up a deal.

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Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

WARNING: this blog post contains spoilers of the movie Tomorrowland and has I high level of Disney nerd-ing and fandom. Readers should be well acquainted with the Disney Parks to fully appreciate this post.

When I saw the first teaser trailer for Tomorrowland I was very excited. I always wanted to write a movie about a future based off of Walt Disney’s original vision for EPCOT. However, Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow OR Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow (I’ve heard it both ways) was probably too clunky of a title for a feature length film and thus I can understand why they went with Tomorrowland.

After the first full trailer was released for the movie I was instantly turned off by the idea. I suddenly thought it look very bad and very different from the original movie that had been pitched to me. Thus, I decided to skip it when it was released in theaters. That said, after hearing my parents reaction upon seeing it in theaters, I decided too give it a second chance. That chance came last night when it was finally released on Starz.

Tomorrowland is a movie that is filled with wonder. What I mean is, it does something that all great movies should do; it transforms you into wanting to exist in the world that has been created on screen. I have always been a fan of anything with secret passages and hidden worlds. The idea that behind a doorway could be a portal leading to different world. Call it the kid in me or the fact that I still have a very active imagination, but the movie helps to bring out the dreamer that still lives inside me.

When I was living in New York, one of the first things I did was to visit Corona Park in Queens. That is the site of the 1964 Worlds Faire. When you enter the Queens Museum there is a whole section dedicated to photos and memorabilia from the Worlds Faire. It really does a great job of transporting your mental state to a different period in time.

The whole opening of the movie which takes place there and then transports to Tomorrowland is one of the most exciting parts of the movie to me. I would love to see Disney World update “It’s A Small World” to more closely represent what takes place in the version of the ride in the film.

Next, I was blown away by the actual visuals of Tomorrowland. I genuinely don’t know how they did it. The first time Casey goes there, I genuinely don’t know what is a set and what is CG. Some of it is fairly obvious but some seems like it was actually built, in which case, how big was their budget!? I loved the homage to “Space Mountain” as it is one of the buildings featured in the background of several shots that take place in Tomorrowland.

To me, I felt that Brad Bird did a great job of capturing the spirit of Walt’s vision, not only for Tomorrowland or EPCOT, but his passion for innovation, invention, imagination and adventure. The part in Paris when they’re in the Eiffel Tower and there are the wax figures of Tesla, Jules Vern, and the others; that felt like part of something from “Spaceship Earth” or “The American Adventure”. It feels very steampunk and reminiscent of a Disney ride. Specifically, not that I’ve been on it, “Space Mountain: From the Earth to the Moon,” at Disneyland Paris.

I will admit that it is not perfect. Tonally, the movie tends to shift from feeling serious, almost a PG-13 type movie, to feeling much more light-hearted and dare I say silly at moments. This does not ruin the movie but it does make it seem a bit unbalanced. I was not as blown away or amazed by this movie as I may have made it seem by all of my praise at the beginning of this post, but I did very much enjoy it. It was actually better than I thought it would be. I think partially because I was expecting to hate it.

In short, Tomorrowland is a very enjoyable film. It was very inspiring and, as corny as this may sound, is exactly the type of movie the world needs right now. An optimistic vision of the future. Something to wake the dreamers up and have them realize that with the right energy and action, anything is possible.

Extra thoughts I couldn’t organically fit in:

– I loved the bit at the end where he has to drop Athena in order to destroy that ball thing. It was very reminiscent of Metropolis (anime) when Tima lets go and falls to her death. That movie makes me cry, without fail, every time I see it.

– I loved that they included the 1939 Worlds Faire “logo” or whatever you’d call it, hidden as one of the buildings in the animated version of Tomorrowland that is shown during the end credits.

– It felt very much like Wall-E in the best way possible, a movie with a message about the human race and planet earth.

– Some of the Chevy product placement felt a little heavy handed. We get it, GM sponsors “Test Track.”

– It also reminded me of “The People Mover.”

– I loved the costume design for Athen at the 1964 Worlds Faire. Her dress with the color and the pattern were a perfect compliment to Nix’s shirt and tie.

– Working for Tesla makes me feel, in a small way, like I am contributing to the future of this planet and thus I feel like my thoughts and work very much align with the message this story tries to portray.

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Fina-fucking-ly Pt.2

Let me start by saying that it could be better. Let me add that this was edited in iMovie. iMovie was never good, but ever since they came out with the latest version I feel they made it more difficult to use. Excuses aside, here for your viewing pleasure is “Shattered.”

Before you ask, no this does not take place in 1978; I would have been negative 11 years old. I just added that because that was when “Shattered” was released by The Rolling Stones, thus that’s when I envisioned this taking place.

This is a super rough idea of a concept I’ve had in mind for a really long time for a “music video” for the song. Unfortunatly, I am sometimes more concerned with getting things done than I am with quality, hence why I didn’t wait until spring/summer to shoot this. Also, I wanted this as test footage to make sure the camera actually worked/works. That’s also the reason I didn’t buy more than one roll of film.

Next, realize that I was editing only about 3 and a half minutes of footage. Anyone who’s edited before knows that more footage is better because it gives you a larger variety of coverage to work with. That is why some shots repeat and why I had to cut the song short (and there’s still a ton of blank space at the end). If I do ever decide to make this for real, I’ll actually storyboard and stuff like that.

PS I was able to fix the contrast in the post prod.

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Fina-fucking-ly

It took 4 years but I finally got my 8mm film digitized! The footage was shot in lower Manhattan in 2012. I was visiting my friends in Brooklyn and brought the Bell & Howell super 8 camera my grandpa had just given to me. My friend Tom and I had gone to B&H Photo Video to pick up some Kodak 8mm black and white film.

The main reason it took so long for me to get it digitized is because film is expensive. The 8mm film cost ~$15, it cost $24 to get it developed and then it cost another $125 to get it transferred to digital. That last part was the killer. The film sat in my desk drawer literally taunting me for years. After getting this job, I finally had enough disposable income to spend on getting it digitized.

Tom shot most of the footage with me shooting a few things myself. Note: 1) there is no sound, do not attempt to raise the volume, there is nothing to hear. 2) this is merely “raw” footage, it is unedited and has no meaning or order to it. 3) I don’t know why the frame rate seems to be off. 4) I don’t know why a lot of it looks “blown out.” Perhaps I can “fix it in post.”

Lastly, keep your eyes peeled as I am in the process of editing the footage and syncing it to music so that I can post something that may be somewhat interesting to watch.

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2015 Top Five

After listening to the last “hostful” episode of The Nerdist podcast for this year, I’ve decided to make a top five list of the most memorable moments from this past year. I think it’s easy to get down on yourself at the end of a year and think “what, if anything, did I accomplish.”

I saw a lot of people posted collages of their favorite memories from 2015 and it made them look so accomplished. My sister told me that she did a Top Five of 2015 on Facebook which I thought was a great idea. Thus, I’ve decided to copy her.

1) Moving to New York – Even though it didn’t end up being permanent, moving to New York was a great way to start out the New Year last year. I technically got there on December 28th of 2014, but I got to celebrate New Years Eve in Times Square which was a good thing to check off the bucket list.

While I was there I saw a Nics/Celtics game, held two jobs, met a lot of nice people, made new friends, lived in three different apartments, performed at an open mic, DJ’d at a night club, performed several nights of karaoke, got to do a lot of sight seeing, saw a Red Sox/Yankees game at Yankee stadium and, one of my favorites, I got to bike in all five boroughs as well as New Jersey, something I’ve always wanted to do.

2) Sold My Motorcycle – Ok, so this one’s not that exciting, but, it was something that needed to get done. It was a huge “splinter in my mind” to quote Morpheus and I was/am glad to be physically and mentally rid of it. I never rode it, got nothing done in terms of modifying it and all I did was sink money into it. Additionally, I’m glad that it at least seemingly went to a good home with a father and son who will be able to wrench on it together and, hopefully, put it to good use.

3) Built TARS – My TARS costume/puppet-thing was a very proud accomplishment for me this summer. One of the hardest things to do with an abundant amount of free time is to channel your unused energy into something positive. I am the king of coming up with projects and either never going through with them, or only going through half way. TARS is one of the few projects I actually saw to completion. Using the RPF, screen shots and behind-the-scenes special features on the Interstellar Blu Ray I conceived my own way to build a TARS replica. Not only did I build it but I was able to share it on Halloween and at a Mini Maker Faire at my local Barnes and Noble.

4) 23 Weeks of Bond – This is something that has been mentioned time and time again in several of my posts between June and now. Probably because it was a huge part of my Summer and Fall. Having something to do every week, something to loo forward to, was a great way to keep me sane while unemployed. Also, it was a great bonding (pun intended?) experience between me and my friends. You never realize how special or impactful something will be until it’s over.

5) Getting a job – Becoming a Product Specialist at Tesla was probably one of the most clutch moments of 2015. I had been searching for a full time job literally all summer, ever since I got back from New York in mid-June. Though having the summer off may sound glamorous, when you’ve got no income, all your friends are busy (at work), and you feel like you have no purpose in life, the glamor quickly fades.

Tesla is a company that I am actually proud to work for and I enjoy going to work every day. I hope to continue to grow with the company. As a bonus, having money coming in again is great and hopefully it will allow me to once again move out.

Of course there were many other things that happened in 2015. Not all of them were good and some of which were painful or even sad. This was merely a list of the things that stood out to me as noteworthy accomplishments. I’m not much for resolutions, but if I had to set goals for myself it would be to finally move out this year, get a girlfriend (that one always seems to be on the list) and to be more assertive.

I guess the goal at the beginning of every new year is to have a fresh start and to “make this one better than the last.” 2015 was pretty good to me, here’s hoping 2016 is too. But, since we’re finally in “the future,” I won’t rely on “the universe” to make my 2016 great, but instead I’ll rely on myself and end this post with a quote from Doc Brown, “The future is what you make it, so make it a good one.”

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The End Of An Era

We did it. Last night Dan, Pete, Kyra and myself went to the 10:10pm showing of Spectre. We finally completed the slowest marathon never run.

Part of me is happy to be done with it. At the same time, it is a little sad. It does sort of feel like the end of an era. It’s also sad because of the fact that we all had so much free time to dedicate to this. It’s weird because it directly shows the passage of time and how fast it goes by. In other words, because it was a weekly thing, I can mentally chronologize what I was doing each week for the past ~23 weeks.

Spectre_OpeningNightMe, Kyra, Dan and Pete at the Jordan’s Furniture IMAX in Reading.

It all started in a Brooklyn pub back in June. I was out drinking with my friends Guto, Harry, Zach and Katie whose couch I was crashing on. That weekend their friend Dan (whom I’d met a few times but wasn’t really tight with) had come down to New York, and was out drinking with us. Somehow, I got to talking with him about how, ever since I started listening to the James Bonding podcast, I wanted to go back and re-watch all of the Bond films.

I had watched all of them as a kid and they were a really big part of my life. However, my love affair with Bond tapered off with the inception of the Craig films.

I had gone to Guto’s apartment a few weeks earlier to watch Skyfall (the only Bond film they owned) as a means of satisfying my craving for Bond, and tiding me over until I could go home and watch them all. I asked Dan if when I got back to MA, he would be interested in doing a Bond marathon (watching one movie a day) with me. He said he was down, but I figured it would never happen. So many drunken plans like this are made at bars, but the people involved never follow through.

On my way to work a few days later, while listening to This Is Only A Test –the official podcast of Tested dot com- Norm mentioned the fact that as of that date, you could watch one Bond movie each week for the next 23 weeks and be finished with all of the previous Bond movies in time for the release of Spectre. I immediately texted Dan, my sister Kyra and my friend Pete (whom I had clued in to the original plan) and asked them if they would be down to start an epic adventure over the next ~4 and a half months to watch the Bond films. All of them were in. On June 19th, the day after I got home from living in New York, we began our “holy mission” with Dr. No.

There, we established the template for the weeks that would follow. The guest would bring a 6-pack of beer, we would watch the movie and then follow it by playing GoldenEye (or Mario Kart, or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, or The World is Not Enough) for the N64 on mute while listening to the corresponding James Bonding episode.

The two constants of this plan were me and Dan. We alternated each week between watching the movies at my house and his apartment. Throughout the weeks there was a smattering of guests. Pete was a fairly consistent guest watcher. Kyra would come fairly often as well, but when she couldn’t join us, she kept the marathon going at her own apartment; keeping up with the films each week and listening to the podcasts. I was glad to have my friend John Papp, a huge Bond fan, join us for both Goldfinger and Thunderball. Additionally, our friend Katherine joined us for Diamonds Are Forever and Kyra’s work friend Alex joined us for The Living Daylights.

I am proud that for once, something I engineered, something I planned out, something I masterminded finally came to fruition. There are so many times I’ve tried to plan things that no one either ever responds to, or shows up for. That was not the case for this plan. Not only were people great at responding to my text messages and emails, but people were great at being flexible with their schedule in order to attend as many of these screenings as they could. Additionally, I’m glad that through the James Bond films, I was able to become good [better?] friends with Dan and John.

I just want to thank Matt Gourley and Matt Mira (Katie Levine and all of their guests) for making the James Bonding podcast. Without you guys, none of this would have been possible. I also have to thank the Nerdist podcast for making me aware of James Bonding and the Nerdist Network for producing and hosting the podcast. I have to give a shout out to the Tested podcast, specifically Norman Chan, for giving me the idea to watch one Bond movie per week for 23 weeks.

It goes without saying that I have to thank Ian Fleming for creating the character of James Bond. In addition I need to thank Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Michael G. Wilson and everyone who has been involved in making films about the character we’ve all come to know and love.

Last but not least, I want to thank my friends, Dan, Pete, John, Katherine, Alex and my sister Kyra for joining me on this journey. It was long and arduous but we did it. We started out with 23 James Bond films; a new one on the slowly approaching horizon. We whittled them down week by week, until there were none.

Mission Complete!

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Subway Symphony

It’s rare that when given the opportunity to skip an ad before a YouTube video that I don’t take said opportunity. However, when I saw the following ad, I thought it was poignant for 2 reasons. 1) it features LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, a guy and a band that I’ve gotten more interested in over the past several months and 2) it features the MTA, a subway system I am now very familiar with after having spent the past 6 months living in NY and learning it.

The idea is that since the MTA is supposedly going to switch from a swipe based card system to a tap based one (apparently not till 2019), that they might as well make the sound of the beep when you tap your card, be a pleasant one. So that is what James Murphy is teaming up with Heineken to try and do. I love this idea and have thought for a while now that the MTA should switch to a tap based card system like the T in Boston. In his words: “someone’s going to make a chip that beeps on the next system… that’s a given.  All I’m asking for is the chance to help make that beep something memorable.”

If you’re down with this idea, go to Subway Symphony dot org and sign the petition.

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