Friday, September 27, 2013

New York City

I visited New York City for the first time. We had a day where things were starting late for us, and we decided to go. It's been a lot of years since Laurie had been there, besides. What we didn't want to do, was waste an entire day trying to figure out how to get there and what we were going to do when we got there. What we did was what Laurie called a recon mission. We walked to the rental office here and got information on travel. We could have gotten a bus to the train station here, but it would have meant leaving our car all day in a questionable area. We drove to South Orange where the train station is, and there is all day inexpensive parking right next to the station. We got, with a little help, the ticket and route system figured out, bought tickets and went upstairs to the platform and waited excitedly for the train to the city. It was easy and painless as we rode through Newark, across the Passaic River into Jersey City and then across the Hudson river into Manhattan. The train stopped in Pennsylvania Station. We got off and walked out into the city that never sleeps. Completely lost and amazed, we picked a direction and started walking. Right down the street from Penn Station, we could see the Empire State Building. It was too late in the day to consider the observation deck there, so we made a note of it so when we had an entire day to spend, we would visit it. We walked and were accosted by nice people selling tickets for the bus tours. we collected a couple of flyers for when we returned. Walking down 8th Ave, we crossed 42nd street. Took a turn and walked down it. Walked by the theater where "Spiderman" the Broadway play was being performed, and continued until we stumbled on Times Square. Lights, cars and everything you would expect from it. The street is as wide as an eight lane freeway, and they have two lanes blocked off on both sides with tables and chairs so people can just hang out, eating and visiting. As in Hollywood, there are people dressed up as cartoon and comic book characters so you can get your picture with them for a nominal tip. One gentleman walked around in cowboy boots, hat, and underwear playing a guitar. He is the "Naked Cowboy". We visited the M&Ms store full of toys and items related to and designed after the M&M characters from the commercials. You can select and buy your own mix of M&Ms if you like. It was three floors and a fun store. Next to it, was the Hershey's store. It wasn't as big, and it was all about the candy. We walked through the local Hard Rock Café. The doors to the bar are the doors from Abbey Road Studios in London. Cool. We started to return to Penn, and stopped at a little upstairs restaurant and bar. Behind my lovely companion was a lighted Empire State Building. We ate and watched the people on the street below. Fed, tired, and full of ideas to plan a day trip with, we walked a couple of blocks to Penn and caught the train back to New Jersey. Took a few pictures, mostly with my phone. I'll take better ones when we go on a full visit.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Card Gaming

A couple of years ago, when we were in San Diego for seven months, we finally relented and allowed my brother Stephen to introduce us to "Magic the Gathering". A wild card game much like "Pokémon" but I think a bit more adult, if that's the word. We still don't consider ourselves master players, but have attended some sessions where you play against strangers at a store that deals in games such as Magic and D&D. Laurie is a far better player than she thinks she is, and has just won a local game night tournament. Many nights there are casual games where you bring your own cards and play your favorite deck against whomever will take you on. Other nights, it's a draft, where each player is given 6 packs of cards (15 cards in a pack) and they have 30 minutes to build the best deck they can in the short time. This does equal the field a bit, because no one is assured of getting a killer deck. Each player plays three game rounds against the players they are matched with. The one who wins two out of three wins that round and they then play another round against another player. I the end, the player with the most wins, wins the tournament. This is what Laurie did. We have fun doing this and it's getting easier as we find stores with friendly players to play against.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Jersey Adventure

We are settled here in Union, NJ. Laurie and I both work weekend nights. She works three nights and I work three or four. That leaves us Monday thru Wednesday free for exploration. There is really a lot to see here for someone who hasn't lived in this area. Every area of the country (and I suppose the world) has unique styles in everything. The people here drive erratically. In more of a hurry than California even. They stop in the middle of the street waiting to make a turn or to talk to someone, and the others just drive around them. We had decided that I would find work while we were here, so one day I located some local restaurants and went out to apply. My intention was to work three days a week - maybe 25 hours. I saw that Boston Market was advertising a number of openings. When I called, I was told I had to apply online. The application process requires you to send a resume, and then it processes it and provides you with a list of openings determined by your experiences. You get to click "apply" on the ones for which you wish to be considered. The entire list I got was for management jobs. id I tell you I was hoping for part time? I printed out a few copies of my resume and walked down the road to drop them off at a couple of places I thought I could work. Not going to have a car to use, it had to be walking distance. The local Applebee's is 2 miles away. Not beyond my walking ability. I walked in and was immediately interviewed by the General Manager who wanted to hire me. He had me return the next day to talk to his Kitchen Manager. At the end of the second interview I was as good as hired. The funny thing was the position I really wanted would have been to be an expediter. I applied for prep cook, and any basic back of house position except line cook or expediter. They asked if I would consider being an expediter. Easily the most fun position I have ever held in a restaurant. You stand between the servers and the kitchen and direct the orders out to the floor. It's been fun. We go out and find quaint little neighborhoods and walk around taking pictures and seeing what there is to see. We have yet to walk through one and felt we'd seen it all. Milburn, NJ. This area looks like a bohemian village such as Sausalito. Lots of little cafes with tables and chairs out front. benches to sit along the streets. I major drama company, too. South Orange, NJ. What a great little town. There is a town square there near the train station. At the station, you can get a train to NYC. Massive cheap parking lot, that charges .50/hour for a total of four hours a day. It is free after 6:00 O'clock. Went there one night and ate at a nice little Mexican restaurant called Toro Loco. Great brick sidewalks and older buildings. A amphitheater in a small park for local acts to play. We came across a piano in a small circular paved area with signs encouraging people to come by and play when they felt like it. Our second visit to South Orange was to catch the train to NYC. Our Third was a day trip, where we had drinks at a cute little restaurant and bar called Above as it's upstairs and above the town square. They have outside seating and we sat there looking across the town with the trains (elevated) running noisily past us. We then went to the movie theater and saw "The Family". Afterwards, we revisited Toro Loco for a great dinner. A funny thing here, is that liquor licenses are few and expensive. Many eateries do not have one, so they allow you to bring your own drinks to the restaurant. Peculiar. Sandy Hook and Long Branch, NJ. These towns are down the coast and a ways away. The town of Sandy Hook is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy and suffers from a name connection with the infamous shooting in Connecticut. An organization is placing children playgrounds around in honor of the people killed in Connecticut. What a great little beach they have there. I have never been to the Atlantic Ocean except during our Florida vacation a couple of years ago. The town of Long Branch was also just a small simple town dedicated to art, music, and expression. Very nice. The Adventure continues....

Social Media

I am a huge fan of limited social media use. I have this little blog here. I have a Facebook account. I'm nor on Tumblr, Twitter, My Space or any other thing. I do really appreciate Facebook for what it has been for me. Consider we live in North Dakota and our daughter lives nearly 200 miles away. Also we are at least 50 miles from all our friends there. It is so much easier to share the little things in life with FB. Our Son is either 50 miles away in ND or 1000+ in Texas given the time of year. All the rest of our family is 2000 or more miles away. We get to share pictures, events, and news easily as we can post any time of day and it sits there until the other comes by to see it. Also, I have been able to find and make contact with friends that have drifted long ago. So, yeah, I don't post every time I sneeze or see a bird, But I have had some great experiences because of the media.