My 2013 Year In Review

3 01 2014

2013 was a busy, chaotic year with plenty of ups and downs, but ended with a handful of epic changes.  I like to go through this exercise to make me feel fortunate for my friends and the doors in life that I get to open.

These are roughly in order of when they happened.

  • Started doing yoga 2-4x a week
  • Supped up my kitchen with all sorts of new toys
  • Learned how to make mozzarella
  • Visited Boston and my friend Reuben made me a FANTASTIC meal at Puritan & Co
  • Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first and second time thanks to Hack The Met
  • Raki surprised me and got tickets to see Hands on a Hard Body (music created by Trey Anastasio)
  • Went to see Here Lies Love and then after the show I took a piss next to Neil Patrick Harris
  • Became a member of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
  • Made homemade duck pastrami
  • Got a new job
  • “Acted” in a friend’s video to promote her coloring book
  • Proposed to Raki on the top of Bear Mountain
  • Went to see the orchestra at Carnegie Hall for the first time
  • Went to Spain and Portugal
  • Went to a Portuguese soccer match where I learned the hard way that they don’t serve alcohol inside the stadium
  • Planned the 4th annual FlashFWD awards
  • Relived freshman year of college and saw Postal Service
  • Went to Saratoga to get away from the city for July 4th weekend and saw Phish twice
  • Don’t judge…but I went to see Bon Jovi in the band management’s suite at Met Life Stadium.  It was a pretty fun night
  • Planned a wedding in less than 6 months
  • Went upstate on separate day trips to dia:Beacon and Storm King Art Center
  • Saw Metallica at Apollo Theatre for their second most baller show of the year (their first being Antarctica)
  • Threw two Backyard Brunches featuring two new culinary experiments of mine:  Latke Waffle and Latin Falafel
  • Caved in and got a Spotify premium subscription…glad that Zeppelin and Floyd are on there now!!!
  • Had a small wedding including a cocktail hour featuring Modern Inventors covering some of our favorite songs and then scarfing down 15 courses of Mediterranean Food
  • Supported two of my friends’ successful Kickstarter campaigns:  Awning and The Ten Commandments
  • Became an EatWith host
  • Saw an advanced screening of Her and got to meet Spike Jonze and Mike Myers
  • Had the best pizza of my life at DiFara’s
  • Helped out my friends and found the theme song to Broad City (first ep here)

For 2014, I’m moving to SF and was able to transfer offices to keep my job.

Top 10 Shows of 2013

1 01 2014

This is in no particular order.

Fleetwood Mac – Jones Beach – 6/22/13

John Legend (solo) – United Palace Theatre – 5/3/13

Postal Service – Barclays Center – 6/14/13

Yo La Tengo – Town Hall – 2/16/13


Metallica – Apollo Theatre – 9/21/13


Phil Lesh & Friends – Capitol Theatre – 10/31/13

Bomba Estereo – Stage 48 – 4/13/13

Preservation Hall Jazz Band – 4 shows at McKittrick Hotel and 1 at Brooklyn Bowl

Built to Spill – Irving Plaza – 11/7/13


Jazz & Colors – Central Park – 11/9/13


Top 10 Albums of 2013

20 12 2013

NOTE:  these aren’t in any order.

Imagination, Personal Growth, and Technology

23 11 2013

I’m pretty sure we got our first computer in 1991.  It was fairly limited in what it could do and I was often afraid I would make “it” mad causing it to break at a push of a key.

In 1993, my sister pulled out one of my last baby teeth, so that the “tooth fairy” could give us enough money needed to get the Sega Genesis, which we had saved up for over the past year from chores and such.

In 1994, I got a TV in my room.

As time passes, advanced technologies become cheaper and their perceived quality improves, so I guess it was the first time for my family where we could have a TV in living room, kitchen, basement, and all the bedrooms instead of having one in the living room where everyone would be forced to watch the same thing similar to the time that I never lived through where the whole family would crowd around the radio.

Between the computer upstairs, video games in the basement, and the TV in my room, why would I need to use any form of imagination when I could be overloaded with whatever media I wanted and not really have to think.

I considered myself to be creative growing up, but not in the same way as I was when there was no TV and no affordable personal computers.  Using my action figures I would create stories and worlds beyond the moment, place, and time I was in.  When I began to have someone else’s creation being fed to me through games, TV, and the internet, I started to consume instead of create, so my imagination began to deplete.

This depletion continued through most of high school.  I used to joke and say I never really read until I was 16 and it was never a book school told me to read.  When you read, you’re forced to use the guidance of the writer’s words to envision a story as if you’re the director by activating your imagination as a collaborator with writer.  However, this isn’t to say that movies or games aren’t beautiful, thoughtful, or imaginative.  I only blame myself for using those mediums in the wrong way and overusing them in general.  After allm imagination and curiosity has lead to every technological advancement we’ve made a society.

At a certain point, I said enough with the noise.  I started writing more, reading more, creating more, thinking differently, and being way more imaginative.  Technology has allowed me to both create and share what I create in an easy way.  It has allowed me to grow and take life into my own hands.

I’m curious to see how my friends’ children and cousins’ children will grow over the next couple years…how they’re able to juggle technology and imagination.

My ridiculous day ended at 11:30 at Applebee’s (but I had a gift certificate [which may or may not make the story weirder])

22 11 2013

Let me break down some of the various phases of my day…generally speaking.  None of this was planned except for 1, 6, and 7.

  1. working from home
  2. coffee with a friend
  3. staying at said coffee shop to finish my work day
  4. dinner
  5. subway
  6. private movie screening
  7. q&a with director
  8. Applebee’s

On face value it doesn’t seem so weird, so let me explain.

1.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week most of my team was in Vegas for some internal meetings, so I decided to work from home.  I could do yoga, cook myself lunch, and blast whatever music I wanted to without headphones.  The only annoying parts were that there are awkward dead zones for cell reception in my room and that the Outlook Web Email app has awful search functionality, so finding old emails is an extremely manual process.  On whole, it reminded me of what not going to Times Square everyday feels like.

2, 3.  Around 2pm I made my way to Manhattan to meet a friend for coffee, which we decided via gchat earlier that morning.  It was the first time I had seen him since getting married, so there was much to catch up on.  Had I not had the flexibility of working wherever I wanted, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see him.  After he went back to work, I caught up on email and make some work calls outside.  On one of these calls, I bumped into a friend who had just started working around the corner from the coffee spot.  Had I not worked from home, made the effort to catch up with my friend, allow him to pick the coffee shop, stayed at the coffee shop, and gone out for a call at that moment, I probably wouldn’t have seen my other friend.

4.  A round 5:15pm I get hungry and make my way west on foot.  I wondered around Flatiron and Chelsea until I decide to go to one of my old favorites Loving Hut for a quick and tasty vegan meal.  I finished my meal at 6:15pm and think to myself that I have plenty of time to get to the screening in Columbus Circle at 6:45pm, so I decide to walk to Penn Station to take the 2,3 instead of hopping on the 28th st 1 station.

5.  I inevitably get lost in Penn because signage sucks and there’s so many people, so I end up near the A,C,E.  I’m in the C,E (local) track when I hear the A (express) coming on the middle platform, so I begin to rush to get to the other platform when I hear another train coming on the local track, so I say fuck it and stay on the local track.  Little did I know that there was delay on the local track stalling the C train and could have gotten to Columbus Circle by now had I rushed to get the express train.

It’s now 6:38, still no train, and I have less than 10 minutes to meet my friend for the screening.  I hate being late, but force myself to laugh at the concept that I should have taken the 1,2,3, but I wondered to the A,C,E and then missed the A train that would have gotten me there on time.  I begin give into to my reality that I’ll be late while everyone around me is either irritated or similarly made their peace with being late to wherever they needed to be.  It’s 6:41, the C train is still on the local track and the A train is leaving 14th on it’s way to Penn.

The train arrives shortly after, but because the train was delayed at 14th, it was more packed than usual, so I move up a couple entrances to see if I could wiggle in.  When I finally get in, I look straight ahead at the other doors and my friend who I was initially worried I would be late for was right there.  All of these moments of coincidence and happenstance are appearing to constantly stack up.

I hadn’t seen my friend since my wedding, so it was great that we’d have time to chat before the screening began.  He mentions that he has a $25 gift certificate to Applebee’s and since he’s a comedian, I laugh and assume he was joking, but no, Applebee’s gave it to him after he wrote a joke about them (note:  ABOUT them as opposed to AT them if you catch the difference).  He mentions that we should go there after the screening.

6.  Now I have purposely withheld the movie I was about to see for a reason.  Wanted the ridiculousness to build up first before I reveal that.  We went to see the new Spike Jonze movie “Her” and there would be a Q&A with him after the movie ended.  Before the screening began a woman reminded us of the Q&A and that Mike Myers would be the one interviewing him.  At that moment my friend and I questioned whether or not they were talking about Wayne Campbell himself.  I just thought it was another Mike Myers and that there was zero relevance for the somewhat reclusive comedian to be interviewing Spike Jonze after an advance movie screening.

I won’t really talk about the movie since it’s not out yet, but conceptually it’s a story about a man who falls in love with an computer that develops feelings and emotions.  The only thing that I will say is that the concept of time in the story is ambiguous.  It could be an alternate present day, near future, or distant future.  The technology was advanced, but the style felt like the 20’s.  Also, the movie itself could have taken place over the course of 1 month or 10 years.  It was very hard to tell and my thoughts were that that was on purpose, so when time came for Q&A, I knew what I was going to ask.

7.  Turns out Shrek was in the building and that Spike and him are friends.  Since this was a Writer’s Guild screening people seemed to ask a lot about the process of writing, preproduction, and making changes to the script as he saw his words unfold on set.  Spike had a weird way of answering, but not answering at the same time.  Partially because the people’s questions were poorly worded, but also that he’s the type of guy who tells a weird story that he made up and it’s for you to make whatever you want out of it.  He’s not going to talk about symbols and underlining meanings.  It’s a story on love and technology, and it’s for the viewer to come out of the story with whatever they want.  I appreciate that view on art.

NOTE:  I did ask my question about time and I was right.

8.  It’s around 10:15 and the screening/Q&A is over. We wondered A) how close the closest Applebee’s is B) whether we’re hungry enough to spend $25 because we wouldn’t want to go back a second time to finish the remainder of the card C) if we would forgive ourselves for going altogether.  Also, I thought about the one and only time I ever went to Applebee’s.  I was in Northeast Philly during President’s Weekend when I was 14 or 15 and I had smoked a decent amount of weed.  Because I was fake Kosher (and obnoxious like an idiot teenager) I inevitably ordered (and I quote my exact order to the waitress) “the All-American Cheeseburger without the cheese” and proceeded to crack up at how stupid that sounded.

Anyways, we ended up going to the one on W 50th st.   You know, the one with “3 floors of food.”  We walk in and it’s shockingly packed.  The host walks us to the second floor.  Everything felt bizarres about the situation and the general location.  I had sharp pain on my left chest and the muscle surrounding my left shoulder blade that began during the walk over.  Was I having preemptive heart pains from the greasy, disgusting processed food I was about to eat?

As soon as we sat down, I texted my wife, “long story short/don’t judge me, but I’m at Applebee’s.”

When we opened the menu we were SHOCKED how expensive everything was.  $15-30 for mains.  I could get a perfect $15 steak at St. Anselm around the corner from my apartment.  Why would I go to Times Square of all places to get their steak for $25 (or however much it was)? What was even weirder there were two references to “Blue Ribbon” on the menu.  Could Applebee’s have cut a deal with the creators of one of my favorite fried chicken recipes?  I asked the waitress, which I immediately regretted, because why would she know of a larger corporate partnership?  We decided to roll the dice since we were already were there and got both of the “Blue Ribbon” specials which were the half rack of ribs, fries, and coleslaw (~$17) + the brownie bites (~$8) thus reaching our $25 goal (Note:  I would pay tax and tip).

While we were waiting for the food, I couldn’t help but to look around at the interesting mix of patrons on the other tables and then noticed the music.  The first two songs I noticed were Alabama Shakes and The Shin, which the antithesis of the top 40 garbage I was expecting.  When the food  finally did come, the ribs fell right off the bones, the fries were crispy and hot, and the coleslaw wasn’t extra mayo-y, which a general pet-peeve of mine.  The main dish was in fact not bad AT ALL…dare I say decent or good????  The only minor complaint was that the sweet and spicy sauce wasn’t spicy.

The brownie bites were two huge pie slice shaped brownies and two scoops of ice cream.  The brownies were too sweet and too gooey for my liking, but neither of us had a problem polishing off the entire dish.

Overall, Applebee’s went beyond our expectations and peeked our curiosity in many regards.  Revisiting the day that started out with yoga at 7am and ended with ribs and brownie bites at Applebee’s, you can’t help but to laugh how life constantly surprises me and makes me laugh.

I’ve become obsessed with the future

28 09 2013

Brian David Johnson’s job is to envision how society will interact with technology 10+ years in the future, so that he can make recommendations for what Intel should invest in from a product standpoint.  He is a futurist.  It’s a fascinating job.  Along with Intel he also launched the Tomorrow Project.

Through learning about his use of science, research, and imagination of the future to help guide the present, I realized how little of that I was doing for my own life, which just opened the floodgates to a host of questions.

I may have one present, but there are many futures to choose from, so what kind of future do I want and why do I want it?  How can change my actions today to create the future that I’ve decided for myself?

I’ve never been good at juggling

5 09 2013

I’ve never been a master at multitasking and I don’t think humans in general were built to juggle many things.  My theory is that we haven’t even evolved in that direction.  Instead we’ve culturally and professionally pressured ourselves to do so under the veil of “productivity.”

Over the holiday weekend I was watching the documentary version of Guns, Germs, and Steel on Netflix.  Similar to my reaction of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, GGS reminded me that for a long time (practically up until recently as far as human history is concerned) people were good at one thing.  They spent their whole life dedicated to it and everyone in the family/town/village complimented each other.

Nowadays things seem to be more complicated as we add new layers to our lives.  For me, juggling work, side projects, planning a wedding, hobbies, exercising, and having some level of social life has been uhhhhh a unique life experience and it’s only going to more complicated as I get older.  Time to add a few more props to my juggling act.  Deep breaths…


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