July 2007 Archives

No pain, no pain.

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Been going back to the gym again, after being on haitus since April. I'm a man of routines. Not like obsessive compulsive routines, but moving to the new condo did screw up with my routine. I kept putting off going back to the gym, thinking i'd use the gym in the condo. I didn't. I would get home and then find something to do rather than going to work out in the condo gym. I realized that the only way to motivate myself to working out was that i'd have to stop at the gym on my way home from work. Once I get home - I was done. I had zero motivation to leave and go back to a gym.

Talked to some people who know about working out for some advice. One friend told me that they would do cardio 5 days a week (Monday - Friday), their metabolism shot up, and they were burning calories when they didn't exercise.

I'm trying to find a happy medium. I did for a good year (like 2005) a strict diet & exercise program, but I was miserable. I would look at food packages, avoid sugars (hard to do when you drink alcohol) and really felt like I was developing a minor eating disorder. I would feel "guilty" when eating the wrong foods. Like some slices of pizza or Milano cookies.

I couldn't do that anymore. My life was steamed chicken & brown rice. My personality is one that gets bored easily and if I don't mix up things, like food, I will get bored eating the same thing over and over. I need variety in my diet. I want to eat healthy & allow for that slice of pizza (or three!) from time to time. I figure with going to the gym 5 days a week and doing treadmill/ellipitcal each day it will help get my metabolism up and burning more calories than I consume. I'll let you know the results.

So i'm back to cooking for myself again. Trying to make new, easy dishes that taste good and aren't calorie busting.

Know any good cookbooks? I was thinking about getting The Abs Diet by Men's Health. I have about 8 other cookbooks at home, but some aren't healthy enough for my needs - especially the Italian ones!

Busy Is Good, Busy Is Bad

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In the last year bartending every Saturday has been different. I have had some really busy nights and some really slow nights. Every bartender wants to be busy. When we first started a year ago, the owners had a barback and a bartender who worked with me on Saturdays. Over the last year the management learned that summers usually are dead weekends, and due to my Saturday night co-worker quitting, they didn't get a replacement right away and I was the only bartender on Saturdays. I had no problem with this, and figured that Saturdays would be quiet over the summer, so it wasn't a big deal.

Last Saturday we had a private party of about 35 people. They paid $35 each, for a 4 hour open bar with well drinks (the basic vodka, gin, rum & tequila) 072407.jpg
& select beers (Smithwicks, Coors Light, Yuengling drafts and most domestic bottles). It started out well. The bar was still open while the party went on, so I had to serve the private party and my waiters alone. That same night was a local festival in town, and at 11pm it ended...and everyone came to the bar.

It went from "really busy" to a crowd 3 deep waiting for drinks - with just me behind the bar.

I'm fast enough, but not this fast. The private party was just knocking back drink after drink. The festival drinkers would come up with things like "Give me 20 soco & lime shots" or "I'll take 5 car bombs" or "Can I have a Long Island Iced Tea, One Mojoto, One "weak" Cosmo."

Imagine the last order when you have a crowd of people waving dollars at you to buy drinks and I have to make three labor intensive drinks - which I don't care about MAKING the drinks, I care because such drinks take a long time to make and they will slow me down from making other people their drinks in a busy bar. I'm a people pleaser, I want to make the customers happy and get stressed if I feel like i'm not serving them fast enough. I would explain to everyone who were trying to get my attention while I am making the drinks "Yes, I see you. I know you want a drink. I will make these as fast as I can and get to you..."

I was helped out by the floor manager for a bit at 11pm and even the owner showed up and started to help out at midnight. There was a good 45 minutes where all three of us were making drinks non-stop, and still couldn't keep up. The cool thing about working there is that even when the owner & manager jump behind the bar, they are doing it to help. I know a lot of other owners in town who "bartend" (I use this term loosely) and really throw around a few drinks when it's busy and talk to their customers, play darts or pool, then split the tips with the bartenders who did the majority of work. They don't do that at my bar, and I respect them for it.

We weren't expecting this. We knew about the party, but we assumed it was going to be a casual Saturday night with about 40 people in the bar, and the service bar (the waiters order drinks for their tables, and I make those, too). I can do that alone. But it was like "The Perfect Storm" when the festival ended, and it turned into a mob scene around 10:30-11pm.

Here's some highlights (or lowlights?), a Top 5 for last Saturday...

Ocean City Fishermen At Dawn

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IMG_1833
Originally uploaded by Furey
Here's a link to some of the pictures I took at dawn in Ocean City, NJ.

Some came out better than others and i'm still learning a bit with my hobby. I definitely need to get a tripod, but hate the bulkiness of it. Thinking about trying out the Gorillapod, but worried about putting a very expensive SLR on to a $55 tripod.

My mother asked me later about how I woke up so early, since I am so well known for sleeping in.

I have a strange trick - if I say to myself before sleep, "OK I have 6 hours until I need to wake up" - my body wakes itself up before any alarm goes off (It isn't a 100% success rate, more like 75% rate). Sometimes within minutes of when the alarm was scheduled to sound. It also only seems to work when I have something important to do or something that i'm excited about.

But I still had an alarm set, just in case.

Last night, I was on my way home from work in midtown Manhattan.

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I got out of the office, and was walking between 3rd and Lexington, when I noticed everyone just staring south. It seemed that everyone were on phones, or just watching in silence. I have seen this only once before, this same sort of "group fear".

September 11th.

I knew right away that "something happened". I walked to the corner, and my heart was cold with dread with what I was about to see.

I turned, and saw a plume of black, thick smoke rising, only 20 blocks away. Everyone was moving around me with a more hurried pace and I could near snippets of conversation on cell phones:

"Dude, another terrorism attack."

"A building collapsed."

"They bombed the subways."

I looked around and I saw a group of four people, a father, a mother, their teenage daughter and son standing there, with a look of confusion. They were obviously here on a holiday, and didn't know what to do or where do go. I felt really sorry for them, because the city wasn't in a panic, but it was clear that something was happening that was similar to September 11. I couldn't help them, and with the mood of the city, I had to find out what was going on before I made my next move.

Today we are all reading how it was just a steam pipe. Last night, in that moment, I felt that the terrorists hit us again. I didn't know what happened, but I felt that something was VERY wrong and I didn't want to take the subway, for two reasons: One, if it was terrorism, I didn't want to be underground, in a subway if something else happened. Two, the explosion was at 42nd street and my subway passes right there. I wasn't about to get on a subway and head towards the explosion.

I thought about it for a bit, and figured I would head to the NY Waterway and take a ferry to Hoboken. I figured that it would be much faster and safer than taking the subway to the PATH. 071807b.jpg

I first started to walk across town, and there were just cops flying down the street, and sirens were blaring. There were a mix of people, some were very much aware of this explosion and there were a ton of others who had no clue what was going on, especially as I got further from Lexington and people couldn't see the smoke.

I hailed a taxi near Columbus Circle and asked the taxi driver if he heard anything about the explosion.

"What explosion? What are you talking about", he replied with a tinge of irritation.

I told him to turn on the news. He did.

Bloomberg news wasn't even reporting it. They were talking to an Ohio senator about the economy in Ohio. I listened to this for 10 minutes until they finally took a break and the traffic guy jumped on and talked about the explosion and saying it was a transformer or steam pipe. Traffic was going to be a mess, they noted.

So, I was a bit relieved to hear that it wasn't terrorism, but I still had to get home. I was already in the taxi and he took me to 48th and West Side Highway.

I hadn't been to the NY Waterway since the Blackout of 2003. It has very much changed, with a large, glass building in place of the dinky dock that used to be there. I walked inside and first saw the dock itself, with only about 40-50 standing there waiting for a ferry to NJ. My first thought was "Man, that was so smart of me to take the ferry."

Then I turned the corner and saw the line.

There were easily 200 people in line waiting for tickets (the picture above was taken when I was in mid-line and doesn't show those standing behind me). There was ONE, count them, ONE person at the window selling tickets. One guy and 200 people standing in a large, glass and steel building that did a terrible job with air conditioning, it was hot and humid.

I went to the back of the line and waited. There weren't any machines around, like I would see at the PATH or NY Subway that I could swipe a credit card, buy a ticket and be on my way.

I saw an asian girl walk into the building, who was covered, on one side of her body, with mud. It was like she was sprayed with mud, but otherwise looked fine. She looked irritated that there was a long line, too. She went to the back of the line with her friend.

After waiting about 15 minutes in line, another employee appeared at the window and started to sell tickets. This helped a little bit, but I easily had to wait in line for 35-40 minutes before I could buy a ticket.

I purchased the ticket and they only had Hoboken North tickets for sale, which would drop me in Hoboken at 14th street. This was the other side of town, but I didn't care I just wanted to get home. I could take a taxi or the bus to my condo.

I took the ferry and heard other people who normally take the ferry daily comment about how many more people were on the ferry because of the explosion. I found the ride to be enjoyable, because of the cool Hudson River air that blew in my face during the ride.

We got off the dock, and then I walked to Washington Street and grabbed a 126 bus to the other end of town.

I fully plan to contact NY Waterway in the morning and ask them to review what happened yesterday. I think the first step they could take would make it easier to purchase tickets from a machine, rather than wait for a window teller. I didn't see any machines around and if there were machines to buy tickets, they certainly weren't clearly marked.

I left work at 6pm, I walked in the door at 8pm.

Vacation, Summer Movies 2007

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So, back on track again.

The site was briefly down, and I didn't notice until I got back from vacation on Sunday. We are up now, the server was briefly down that hosted this site and no one from the admin side noticed until I sent them an email. Oops!

Anyhow, lets start by answering the "How was your vacation emails"!

Friday July 6: Went to Skybar on River and 1st street with a few friends. They have $2.50 coronas, lots of tables and if you are a smoker - you can smoke to your hearts content (to my chagrin). Drank a bit, then stumbled to Mulligan's for a drink. One drink turned to 5 tall Red Bulls and Vodka. I won't say that I "blacked out", but the rest of the night did get a bit hazy.

Saturday July 7: Bartended that night, made a decent clip of money since i'm working by myself now but its much more frantic & I don't have the chance to really talk to the customer as much as I used to. I think I made about 800 Sangrias that night by hand. Went home and watched "Children of Men" at 4am. Was transfixed and the sun came up at 5:30 with me still watching. Rent. That. Movie.

Sunday July 8: A lazy Sunday from staying up so late. Slept until 11am, up for a few hours, and back to sleep at 2pm after visiting Bagel Smashery. Woke up around 6pm, played on the computer a bit that night. Went to the beer store and decided against getting a case of beer and got 3 six packs: Newcastle, Yuengling and Sapporo (24 oz silver cans).

Monday July 9: Went to Four L's for lunch. Happy that they had Peroni on tap, with chilled Peroni glasses. Tried the chicken fingers, which were ok, and they didn't have BBQ sauce. Oh well. Talked to the bartender and the owner a bit and it turned out that they and I have common friends.

Tuesday July 10: Had to get a new barcard at 11am. Got my two money orders from the Post office for $50 and $54. Had my drivers license. This is my 4th barcard, so I thought I knew the routine. I get to the police station and now you need to have something with your social security number on it (a social security card, a W2 form, a paycheck) to basically prove you are a US citizen. I went home, grabbed my W2 form, went back and I was furious. Every time I get a barcard I have to jump through hoops with the police. I went to Brass Rail for lunch, and who do I see but Francia, who worked with me at Mikie Squared. We caught up on old times, and they have a fixed prix lunch, for $12. It wasn't bad, but the portions were a bit smaller than I liked. Also got to say that the Brass Rail's beer wasn't ICE COLD like they have it at Four L's. That's a big thing with me at a bar - your beer on tap or in bottle should be the proper temperature. After my lunch, I got my haircut at Mad One Jacks. Trying something different with my hair, figure I can always go back to the messed up bed-head - i'll get a pic up for you to judge. I'm sure I will have to endure another month of "Flock of Seagull" jokes from the usual suspects.

Wednesday July 11: Went to Ocean City, NJ. Friends of my family have a shore house on Park Place, a stones throw from the beach. When I arrived, looking around the familiar surroundings, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The last time I was at OC, at this same shore house, and with a girl that I was dating for about 2 months. I liked her, and still felt like I missed her for that brief moment. I went to the beach, and got about 2 hours of sun. When I got home, went to Voltaco's and ordered a cheesesteak. I lived my summers in Ocean City from 1985-1994. I remember LOVING Voltaco's cheesesteaks. What the fuck happened? My cheesesteak was TERRIBLE. The bread - outstanding. The meat was no longer chopped up, but like Steak Ums were slapped on the grill and not chopped up. The cheese was just placed on top of the sandwich, instead of mixed in with the meat. I asked for grilled onions and marinara sauce and they were barely added. I wanted to call them and vent, but I just figured it would fall on deaf ears.
That night, I went to the boardwalk and saw Transformers, or as I call it "Let's Blow Shit Up". I give it a C+ rating. I can put my logic on hold until I see a dope like Shia LeBouf get a girl like Megan Fox. Then they put in Rachael Taylor as the impossibly hot & cute white hat hacker? Come on. Yes, I know the target audience was 16-24 year olds, but I would have cast two next-door-neighbor hot girls in that role. Also WTF is up with transforming into a car, driving two blocks, turning into a robot, then back into a car, going two blocks, back into robot again? Yes, I get it - you want to show off the robots transform, but its like they were looking for reasons to make them transform. You could have been a robot and ran two blocks, Optimus.

Thursday July 12: I was joined by Mom, Steph and Dave along with the kids. We had a picture perfect beach day, and it was glorious. I helped build an enormous sandcastle which got not only my nephews and Dave into the mix, but also a lot of young kids - and their moms. Their moms who are mid 30's and some were very cute. Again, couldn't imagine being married and with kids, but also do start to think about how Hoboken suspends reality. In Hoboken, being 35 and single guy? No problem! Outside of Hoboken? Well...reality does set in a bit. No, I don't want to get married and have kids now, but then again being 45 with young kids? Oh well, I don't plan my life, I will just let it happen.
Thursday night got Mack & Manco's and went to see Knocked Up at the movies with Steph and Dave. This will be the next Anchorman with the quotes in the movie:
"He said that, that means if there's 25 people here I get to let in one and a quarter black people. So I gotta hope there's a black midget in the crowd."Beard Jokes: "Hey Crocket, how's Tubbs doing?", "How did it feel changing your name from Cat Stevens to Yusef Islam? ", "See ya... Scorcese on coke". "Because your face looks like a vagina. " "Your face looks like Robin Williams' knuckles."
"I won't say it but it rhymes with shmashmortion."
"Was your vagina drunk?"
"I'm the best thing that's ever happened to you? Now I'm starting to feel a little sorry for YOU..."
"Hey, don't let the door hit you in the vagina on the way out! "
"You look like Babe Ruth's gay brother... Gabe Ruth."

Friday July 13: On Thursday I woke up at 5:40am to see if I could take some pictures of the sunrise with my camera. It was too cloudy, and I figured I would try again Friday. Somehow I was able to not even set the alarm and wake up at 5:30am. I got up, went outside and...wow. I think it has been about 25 years since I actually took the time to watch the sun rise. Sure, I have been up at dawn, like I was last Saturday, but was watching TV, not just enjoying one of the beautiful scenes of nature. I took about 50 pics and went back to bed. Friday we were joined by Stacey, Pat and their kids. It was like a Disney movie exploded in our house. We all got out to the beach and the day was fun, but the weather was so-so. I left Ocean City by 3pm and made it back to Hoboken by 5pm. Went out to Court Street for dinner with a friend. Later I went to Moran's, listened to Willie O'Connor play guitar and then left early because...

Saturday July 14: I went golfing at Beaver Brook golf course with Chris, Jay and Jimmy. Good course and I broke 100 for the first time in ages, shooting a 99. Once we got home...we found out we had no water. That was at 2pm. By the time I had to go bartend, still no water and I had to sponge bath with Volvic water before going in. I figured the bar would just close, but the stayed open, getting bottled water & soda, plastic cups and closed the kitchen. I'm kind of glad we stayed open because Chris, Jay, Jimmy & Lauren came out along with Trainer Mike. It was nice to see the Dipper's regulars at the old bar, I miss our regulars. Also got a nice surprise with my ex-roommate Kristen showing up with three of her friends. Also a late night appearance from Rory & her friend, who worked with me at Mikie a few months ago & they stayed at the bar with me until closing. I gotta say its cool to have friends & regulars or old bartenders at the bar because they know how to order drinks, unlike so many others who need a few lessons.

Sunday July 15: Another lazy Sunday, with a major food shop at Shop Rite. Spent about $140 on groceries, just getting dumb, random things that my apartment was missing: Soy Sauce, Tupperware containers, Neosporin to other "canned goods" like soups, chicken stock broths, chopped tomatoes & tomato paste (homemade sauce). I also did a bit of reorganizing around the apartment, laying out a new rug my sister bought for me as a housewarming gift and a few new lamps & ottoman that my mother bought for me. I have to figure out what i'm going to do with my family room. I bought a new couch and a leather chair with ottoman. Sadly, the chair fits, but not with the ottoman. I should have gotten a love seat, it would have fit better in the family room. I think I may have to sell the chair & ottoman on craigslist or just the ottoman alone. Oh well.

Otherwise, i'm back at work and sadly realizing that I wish I had ANOTHER week off. But it was a good time and my next vacation is in September - which will probably be similar to the last week.

Away For A Bit

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No new updates expected in at least a week. I will be on vacation next week from my 9-5 job. Going to hit Ocean City sometime during the week for a few days of relaxation and sun. No major plans besides that - might try to go to Atlantic City and gamble a bit.

Don't Buy Fish On Mondays?

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I was getting off the PATH train yesterday when a local restaurant had people handing out flyers & promoting 1/2 priced sushi on Monday nights. I cringed when I saw that. I knew full well never to order fish on a Monday.

There certainly are places you can dine that will have excellent fresh fish every day of the week, because they are taking the extra steps necessary. Restaurants that order "Day Boat" fish, are those boats that get the fish the same day and sell it to restaurants. There's also "Top Haul" which are the fish recently caught by non-day boat trawlers (for deeper sea varities like Tuna and Swordfish), and refers to those fish which sit at the top of the haul in the boats hold. Flash-freezing is a new technique by boats which they catch the fish, freeze it on the boat, and it keeps the fish fresher, longer. Only problem is that this is good for certain types of fish, and not great with others.

Usually there is a premium price tag associated with this, and would be found at the three to four star restaurants - not the restaurants selling sushi at half price.070307.jpg

Anthony Bourdain wrote In "Kitchen confidential", his tell-all memoir of working in NYC kitchens:

"You walk into a nice two-star place in Tribeca on a sleepy Monday evening and you see they're running a delicious-sounding special of Yellowfin Tuna, Braised Fennel, Confit Tomatoes and a Safron Sauce. Why not go for it? Here are the two words that should leap out at you when you navigate the menu: 'Monday' and 'Special'.

"Here's how it works: The chef of this fine restaurant orders his fish on Thursday for delivery Friday morning. He's ordering a pretty good amount of it, too, as he's not getting another delivery until Monday Morning. All right, some seafood purveyors make Saturday deliveries, but the market is closed Friday night. It's the same fish from Thursday!

[...]

"Why doesn't he throw the left-over tuna out? The guy can get deliveries on Monday, right? Sure, he can ... but what is preventing his seafood purveyor from thinking exactly the same way? The seafood vendor is emptying out his refrigerator too! But the Fulton Street fish market is open on Monday morning, you say!! He can get fresh! I've been to the Fulton Street market at three o'clock on Monday morning, friends, and believe me, it does not inspire confidence."

Certainly refrigeration of fish is important, but Anthony also described how the fish is in a fridge that is packed with other foods over the weekend. The refrigerator is opened and closed countless times while the kitchen workers are grabbing items from it - which harms the fresh fish.

Even if a restaurant is getting a fresh fish delivery on Monday, you know that they are trying to get rid of old inventory over new inventory. I'd be very squeamish about ordering fish on a Monday in New York City, let alone Hoboken.

But for some people their wallets come ahead of their health.

What do you think? Would you order fish on a Monday in Hoboken?


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