Washington D.C. is perfect for busy weekends; there's just enough stuff, just accessible enough, to keep a couple of folks pretty much totally occupied for two and a half days. We proved my theory like this:
Friday after work we drove west then south, over one of the many Susquehanna bridges in Harrisburg and then over one of the relatively few Potomac bridges into Washington. Our stop for the evening was Georgetown, where we wandered the crowded streets before settling on a very chic, very late in the evening tapas dinner. As we were enjoying the last drops of wine and the last nibbles of manchego, the phone buzzed and Anthony and Elizabetta were on their way. We rendezvoused on a busy corner and they led the way to hip Clyde's, where we had a nightcap.
In the AM, as I like to say, we got to the Metro and rode all the way to Union Station, where we took advantage of the foodcourt for brunch. Then we ventured into the heat of the day to circumnavigate the Capital, see the Supreme Court, take some photos, and eventually get to the National Building Museum. The Building Museum has several things going for it, not the least of which is an enormous, Italian-ornate lobby. We hit several great exhibits - on Wright's skyscraper and green/sustainable housing and DC's civic engineering history and the role of architecture in rebuilding New Orleans - before browsing a great museum shop and being on our way. From NBM we began the circuitous Tour of Monuments, walking the length of the mall, around the Tidal Basin, and back to Smithsonian Metro for the ride back to Anthony's place in McLean.
We went to Old Town Alexandria for dinner as Saturday gave way to Saturday night. There was a fun, chill feel to this neighborhood that we decided had a slight edge over Georgetown, but it was getting pretty quiet by the time we'd gotten a dessert from a bakery.
Sunday was meant to be a museum tour, but instead we toured a museum - Smithsonian's American History - and were fine with that. When we'd seen about wars and cars, Julia Child and children's fascination with the Muppets, Jenelle and I said goodbye to Anthony and the District and drove home, to Macungie, with weary legs and two MemorySticks full of pictures.
Well sure I had intended to blog yesterday, but then the news of Floyd Landis' alleged doping hit the wires and I had to refocus. It seem like cycling is about the dirtiest, drugiest sport currently in existence, with the possible exception of professional wrestling. If Landis turns out guilty - and I have my doubts at this point - then I suppose Mr. Periero takes the jersey, but how much was he tested? I dislike the notion that he's clean and untestable because he lost. Maybe there would be some way of ending this struggle? I propose a red jersey, awarded each year to the best finish by a rider hopped up on 'roids. Alternately, a pink jersey with little frills around the waist could be awarded to the best finish by a rider who is actually, legitimately, "don't have to test his B sample" clean.
Under a deadline of sorts at Knoll today. Our report draft, project description, resumes, and final PPT deck are all due to various people for various reasons at various points throughout the next three days. It's almost fun to have a little pressure to wrap things up on a Friday afternoon once more; reminds me of those heady days of emailing CAD drawings hither and yon before powering down and heading out to Sarasota's Old Salty Dog for grilled chicken Caesar salad with Drew and Kim.
This evening Jenelle and I went to our first coeducational work gathering. All the Knoll CPD staff from East Greenville and their spouses (where applicable) got together up on the hill outside Macungie - at Bear Creek Ski Area - for drinks and dinner. It was fun to experience work/life balance with a few other people that Ryan and I have developed quite a rapport with over the summer. Jenelle seemed a natural addition to the event and we really enjoyed ourselves.
In the midday there was a flurry of MTrek emails that was without rival: almost 50 messages in the span of three hours. What? Joanna called it when she said [my paraphrasing] that MTrek isn't too fun anymore. Somehow I don't think that I really appreciated the amount of year-round work that this organization would be when I signed up in September last. Now I'm finding myself ready to go on the Michigan Trek and have a blast and then kinda be done with it.
This is maybe a bad segue, but I got a note the other day from Damon Dance that Ross Habitat for Humanity (for whom I'm the director of operations) officially has a house. It's on Watling Street in Ypsilanti. Beaut.
Wedding planning is really fun because you can totally be creative. Want pink dogs jumping through great fields of black grass? Knock yourself out. There are probably already pictures online. As a couple, our style is probably more contemporary and less modern than that, but it sounds nice.
It was "50c off your order if you're wearing yellow" day at Rita's, so we donned some maize t-shirts and headed up there to pick up some vanilla custard to go with the key lime pie that Jenelle made today. So much for the WBP...
After a little end-of-the-workweek gathering at Tom & Anita's house with the CPD gang, a great weekend rendezvous up in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. I really like NRAs because there is plenty to do, but on Friday we mostly did nothing... a campfire and some hanging out and that was that.
Saturday morning we crawled out of our tents, Anthony made some killer scrambled eggs, and then we gathered up our gear for a canoe trip down the Delaware. From our put-in at Smithfield Beach in Pennsylvania we headed south with the flow. The rain arrived a short time later and pummeled us, to varying degrees, over the next hour until we were soaked quite through. Just when we had nearly reached the breaking point, we were granted a dual reprive: the rain stopped and we rounded a bend and found a great lunch spot on some New Jersey-side rocks. Jenelle assembled pasta salad and we dined on great sandwiches and said salad and grapes and cookies while the sun warmed the day and dried our clothes. Then back into boats for the balance of our 11-mile trip through the flood-ravaged Gap to Portland.
Nick and Bonnie drew dinner and didn't disappoint with glazed grilled chicken, lemon couscous, black bean salad, and some very delectable grilled banana boats. It was a camp meal we won't soon forget, followed by the rigging of a tarp that kept us dry as a second bout of rain blew through. Later in the evening we talked and had wine and more dessert while the fire crackled and burned down to glowing embers that signalled bedtime.
Sunday was a lazy morning with Gram making a gourmet fruit salad and english muffin breakfast sandwiches. We sat around the remnants of the fire and basked in a great morning before we had to clear the site and head for our respective homes. On our way home, Jenelle and I stopped to pick a two-quart Tupperware full of raspberries from the bear-ravaged bushes lining Old Mine Road. Then home to the Lehigh Valley, where we unpacked, took a lazy nap, and headed to Quakertown for a date with Clerks II and Coldstone Creamery.
Last day of a quick week. There's a CPD party after work then Jenelle and I drive north to Worthington State Forest on the New Jersey side of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area for a weekend of camping with the ski trip gang and partners.
Today's editorial comment is about the way search engines work against blogs. If you Google "Corey Bruno" today you'll get six hits related to me on the first page - none of which will be this blog. I know, I know, you are thinking "that's crazy whack, yo" and I agree. Here's the issue: Google counts actual usage of the word, not inclusion of the word in the stated contents of the blog as denoted by so-called META tags. Yahoo!, on the other hand, returns this very site as the number one response because their engine heavily weights the contents of META tags. I understand Google's 'do no evil' reluctance to take internet users at their word, but this severely slams bloggers who rarely self-reference and even more rarely speak in the third person. In order for Corey Bruno to increase the traffic to Corey Bruno's blog, Corey Bruno must mention Corey Bruno on Corey Bruno's blog. That's no way to live! I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think Google's BlogSearch (where a search for "Corey Bruno" brings up a time when my name was used in a post) needs to have an updated algorithm that factors in the heavy first person point of view bias in the blogosphere, and I need to reconsider my choice of search engines. For now I've trained the search window on FireFox (I know some of you are holding out...) back to Yahoo!, leaving Google to benignly search content without representing what it truly is.
U.S. Army Corporal Joseph Micks was honored in a ceremony at the Gladstone Armory today. In his honor, a park will be built with the donations that I'm sure poured into an account setup for his memorial. I didn't know Joe that well, but I think he would have been proud of a park bearing his name. Mostly it is odd to think that while we continue to see news of a war we can't win and a park not yet built, a young man I knew has given his life for a cause that I'm supposed to believe in. It's a double-edged sword that leaves me feeling nothing but sad and bitter.
posted at 9:48 PM - comments
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Ryan and I got up early today to climb aboard the Carl Beiber bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. The reason for our journey was a visit to Knoll's New York Showroom - touring through the furniture galleries and talking at some length (and dining at the Chelsea Grill) with technical resources personnel from that showroom. It was nice to spend a day at work with a few younger, hipper, designer-y folks but ultimately the visit did reinforce much of what we suspected.
In the evening, home from New York, the three from 312 and the Davids went to Kutztown Fairgrounds to take in a night of Spring and Slingshot racing. I hadn't really ever been to a car race before, but it was loud and fun in a gritty, high-speed, low-tech mid-America way. We realized that it probably wasn't something that we would have done without the encouragement of David (the lesser) so we were thankful for the experience.
You have to be somewhere all the time... why not here?
It was one of those weekends when everything that happened seem to better the story. As we retell it later - now - it's every bit as fun as when it happened.
Friday Ryan, David (the boss), and I left work a little early and swung through Macungie to pick up Jenelle before boarding a regional jet at ABE and flying south to Charlotte. There, after spending our layover in the USAirway's lounge, we took advantage of USAir's rebooking policies and scored a roundtrip ticket each by switching from Wilmington, NC, to Myrtle Beach, SC and delaying our arrival by an hour. On the ground at the beach, we hit Italiano delite ristorante Carrabba's before heading to David's house to settle in. Afterwards, we found the House of Blues Cafe for a nightcap before turning in.
Saturday was a sort of lazy old day, with beach time and swimming time and frisbee in the surf time. We explored North Myrtle Beach's beach/cool downtown and then got cleaned up for an orchestra concert at incredible Brookgreen Gardens. On the way south we picked up picnic boxes - then spread a blanket on the grass and toasted a great day. In the interval between last bites of sandwich and first sounds of strings we walked the impressive garden and sculpture gallery, noting the gathering darkness overhead to the west. As distant rumbling whipped clouds and sent incredible bolts of lightning landward, the concert was delayed. Instead of the Charleston Symphony in the garden we had wine in the car while the storm roiled overhead, then heard official word of cancellation and drove north to Crocodile Rocks dueling piano bar at Broadway at the Beach, where we joined a group of revellers in out-partying the storm.
Sunday we got up and made our way to the beach in no particular hurry. Ryan and I 'threw the disc' and we all got a little sun, but before long needed to pack up and drive north to Wilmington, NC. David had suggested we find a meal in this quaint riverside town, and we did before getting back onto airplanes and reversing our itinerary, even riding first class into ABE. Though slightly sleepier, Wilmington conjured images of Savannah, with a great riverside boardwalk and a really slammin' soul-music Shell station that will not soon be forgotten. Like the weekend.
posted at 9:16 PM - comments
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yesterday after work Ryan and I went to Macungie Memorial Park to throw the disk (nee frisbee) around. Ryan is good at throwing - he's a 'handler' for Michigan's club ultimate team, MagnUM - and has been sharing some wisdom, so I'm adding some new throws and picking up distance and accuracy on the ones I already have. The three of us have been throwing in the evenings a bit and Jenelle and I have benefitted quite a little bit from the expert coaching.
Later in the evening we headed out on a date... across the street to Armetta's for a stromboli that was also partly my lunch and a canoli. Then we headed to Emmaus to return Wallace & Gromit's Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but on the way back there was a detour to the top of the big hill to watch a dazzling, intense, valley-illuminating display of lightning that lit up the night sky every 20 seconds or so for nearly half an hour.
Work today, sandwiched around the remains of a calzone, was very productive in the sense that we convinced management to fund our technology proposals and get behind a few other initiatives. It was the dash between offices, "yes I've got those figures," send that email, make the tough call MBA day that I've been waiting for. This evening we're baking and packing and getting set to jet away to Myrtle Beach, SC. I might explain more later if I can figure this weekend out.
It's a sad day: somebody I know died in Iraq. Joe(y) Micks, who was a Boy Scout in Rapid River during my later years in Troop 488, was killed by an explosion on Saturday. It's impossible to comprehend why. I continue to want to feel like we - those who risk life and limb in the name of our nation - are accomplishing something but at this point I don't see what that something might be. The quagmire grows ever deeper, control and mastery of the situation slips farther from our grip, and the battle is raging ever closer to the hearts and homes of everyone in America.
After a day at work and a successful trip to Emmaus with Jenelle that turned frustrating when we got home, Ryan and I set out on what turned into a 24 mile Tour de Berks County. We rode over some hills, cruised along the farm fields, and flew down downhills as afternoon faded. It felt fun, like something worth being able to do. Something worth dying for? I'm not sure.
The most frustrating thing for me is the powerlessness of having 1/200,000,000th of the helm. Sometimes the idea of democracy feels like a runaway train - somebody is theoretically driving, but when the direction seems wrong it is utterly debilitating to be clinging to the middle cars. When the leader isn't dedicated to the followers, what improvement is that over any other -ocracy?
Coasters, baby! Coasters! After a long afternoon slog at Knoll Inc we went to Cedar Fair's Dorney Park-brand amusement park to ride roller coasters. Dorney has a pretty good evening pass that allowed us five hours of discounted weeknight coasterfun. Jenelle, Ryan and I went up, down, upside down, and downside up through some pretty serious metal thrill rides. From Hydra's lazy, utterly non-centrifugal death roll out of the station to Steel Force's 205-foot, 75 mph main drop and three humped return track, we rode them all twice. Then, we rode two very slow trains around the park to see the sights and called it a night. Back in Macungie Ryan said "yup, we did it right." Right on. We had Jenelle's couscous, chicken, and broccoli salad for dinner and only bought a 25c bag of cotton candy in the park. After over four hours we were ready to head out anyway, so nightfall was the perfect time to go.
At work today, a company-sponsored lunch. The corporation bought pizza for customer resources, hoagies for finance, and because we're part of customer resources but each lunch in finance Ryan and I had both. This afternoon we're setting up the two parallel pilot programs we've got going next week, then it's ciao ciao and see you Monday.
CSTV aired the collegiate ultimate frisbee championship tournament highlight show last night, so everybody who calls 312 Brookfield Circle 'home' schlepped to Starter's sportsbar to take in the festivities. Ryan provided the insider knowledge and we enjoyed the show but wished for more coverage of the intricacies of the game.
At home I struggled somewhat with michigan trek stuff. It is really hard for me to accept that the collective group of MBA2s won't go on a trip in Michigan. MTrek's most common complaint is that trips cost too much. The most common request from people who didn't go is a cheaper option. Apart from the michigan trek every single trip will be over $1000, most closer to two thousand once airfare is included. The organization hurtled itself towards fancy trips, leaders backed out of domestic ones, and the North American ones that do exist are going to wind up costing something akin to the central american onces. If small group outdoor adventure can't be achieved affordably, what good is it? If bonding requires two grand, who wants to bond? I'll be a friend to a ton of people if I skipped the trip and had a free happy hour at Dominick's with the cash instead.
Beach weekend. Ready, set, set, set, GO. Drive south, drive east, drive south more. Over the C&D. Through slower lower. Waffle House - triple smothered, diced, peppered. Slow go in Rehoboth. Stop for ice. One hundred twenty third street. The beach house. Upstairs, downstairs, over the dune crossing to the ocean. Sunshine, fun time. Boogie board, body surf, waves crash, splish splash. Salty hair, salty skin, salty lips, salty clothes, salty towels. Boardwalk cruising / Thrasher's fries / funnel cake. Hot nights in the attic. Up early to pedal over the state line north. Sweaty already? Day in the sun. Day in the waves. Sand. Crabs on the table for dinner. Late night walk along the beach & sit in a guard tower. Back to the beach house + across the street for ice cream. Bed. Banana bread. More sun. More waves. Time to go before you know. So long, beach house. Soft serve on the way out of town. Drive home in the heat. Fireworks... living here in Allentown.
posted at 1:12 PM - comments
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Saturday of Fourth of July weekend; whomever placed the Fourth on a Tuesday really did a disservice to this day, because it felt oddly like the first day of a very normal weekend. That being said, we got out and made the most of it. First up was the Kutztown Pennsylvania Dutch Festival. Lots of Amish and Mennonite traditions on display, with old engines and roasting ox and craftwork all around. After the fair, back towards Macungie with a stop outside Topton at the farmer's market we've been looking for all summer: apricots and tomatos the size of one's head and delicious corn. Back at home, we cooked and packed and made ready for the real holiday to begin. Three days on the beach in Ocean City, MD, start tomorrow and we are so there.
posted at 10:52 PM - comments