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My book site is up!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Man, I love the holidays for many reasons, but now that I work the best thing is all the additional free time to do more stuff. Yea I know, I'm a workaholic, but I've been at home in Michigan trying to cross a few things off my mile-long To Do list I have sitting in my Gmail account.

If you're here to hear about the holidays and how Michigan is going, stay tooned for the next post, I'll save that for later...

The reason for me writing today is to announce that my book website is FINALLY up. Oh yea, for all of you who don't know, I'm writing this book, and it should be cool. It's about...well to put it in short, vague terms it's about my senior year of college. If you've been in touch with me in the past year or so, you probably know what it might be about.

The reason I'm being a little secretive is not just to make you want to buy my book to find out (that'd be awesome if you did), but to start protecting my ideas better. I really think it's a good idea, and I'm sure many other people think it is too, which is why they might steal it. With that said, the book site is restricted to only those I invite in, BUT if I know who you are and I know that you're not an author looking for a good story, then I'll probably let you in. If you were lucky enough to get an invite from me already, then awesome you're in. If not then....tough. No, I'm just kidding, I did the invites really fast tonight without figuring out everyone who should be added, so I'm sorry about that, just let me know and I'll add you in.

In the meantime, enjoy your break/time off/what-have-you with your family/friends/significant other/dog/whoever and when you get back or have some random free time, feel free to check it out:

http://book.mattstaniszewski.net

...and to all a good night!

-StM

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Hawai'i Pics and Book Site

Hey everybody,

Back from Hawai'i, what an awesome time! I have a bunch of nature shots as well as several with me and "the little guy" Rune hanging out at my sister's house. Check em out here:

Hawai'i - November 2009

Also, just a heads up that I'll be launching a new website off my site here at book.mattstaniszewsk.net (yes I know it doesn't work quite yet). I'm planning on posting quotes and excerpts from my book that I'm working on, as well as my progress, page count, ideas, etc. I'm also planning on adding an anonymous idea form to submit suggestions to me, and maybe even a forum. I know most people won't be interested (except maybe my roomies whom I'm writing about haha), but who knows, maybe someone has an awesome idea or story I didn't think of. I'll post when it's live.

Good night all,

-StM

P.S. Just a little FYI, the book has passed the outline stage and I've begun writing it (I'm at about 7 pages and counting, but PLENTY of story to go!)

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A fresh coat of paint always makes things better

Well, it's been a while since I've updated this thing, so now seems as good as any time.

I dedicated my last weekend entirely to painting my apartment. I was starting to go crazy with all the white walls everywhere. I know, I know, they painted one accent wall for me and who knows if I'll be here after a year, but I had to breathe some life into these walls.

Come to think of it, that's a good question...where will I be in a year? The outlook right now: unknown. I kinda like the area of SJ I'm in, although I still haven't really met anyone at my apartment. It seems like all the neighborhoods around here are mixed with all sorts of ages, so I'm not sure if moving to another area will guarantee I'd meet more people my own age. I guess we'll see...

On other fronts, my visit to SLO back a few weeks ago was great. I'm glad I got to see Blake and Armen. I also got a chance to meet a prof from a school in Sweden. I've been toying with the idea of doing this exchange program for grads they're trying to start at Poly. However, with how bad it's gotten at Poly (furlough days? come on!) nobody can get any classes. I'd have to take over half my courses there for the exchange, so I'd get stuck there forever. Instead, Dr. Smith suggested becoming a full-time grad exchange student for two years. I was planning on going to grad school in another year and a half or so, but he said tuition is free still for 2010, so I should apply for next year. So, that's another plan. The app opens in December and I'll be there to apply as a grad student. I'm not so sure I want to do this, but he said it doesn't hurt to apply, so we'll see how it goes. I was planning a Eurotrip next fall, but this may just take it's place.

Ok...so back to painting, what a weekend! Let me just say that I am almost positive that I won't be painting this place back to white for my landlord. They can charge me for it, go ahead. Why do I say this? One word: ladder. I rented a 20 foot extension ladder this weekend to reach the vaulted walls that I have. Little did I know how big a hassle it'd be. I woke up Saturday morning at 8 to pick it up after about 3-4 hours of sleep. I drove over the rental shop and grabbed the ladder. I thought I could fit the thing in my car with it sticking out, but the guy said the cops get really picky about that thing. Instead, he roped it to my roof. Man, that was quite a site! I got home alright, unroped the thing, and then heaved it off the top of my car. Then came the stairs.

The thing BARELY fit in the stairwell. It nearly took me down with it, but luckily a nice guy helped me up the stairs with it. Turns out, his daughter just moved in across the way from me. Seemed like I might actually meet someone in this place. I went over later to introduce myself and to meet her and tell her to thank her dad. Instead, I came face-to-face with her dad at the door. I told him thanks again and turned around and headed back inside. Wow, that made me feel like a creeper, so much for meeting my new neighbor. Maybe I'll see her someday, although I'm almost certain that I just live next to a bunch of people who never go outside.

Anyways (lots of tangents I know), the next chore was getting the ladder through the door. It only had inches of clearance as I dragged it in. The whole day was a battle of setting the thing up and moving it around my place without taking out a wall. I managed to finish my bedroom and living room walls on Saturday before grabbing a burger and crashing at 11 from lack of sleep.

Sunday was a little better. Thanks to Matt's help, we got the ladder on my car and back to the rental shop just in time for my 24 hours to be up. After we grabbed breakfast, I finished up the accent wall in the front hallway.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out. I still need to get prints for my borderless frames to hang on the wall in the living room, but other than that I'm pretty much done with decorating for now. I've named all the colors by the food they reminded me of (though they aren't the names from the little paint chip). The yellow in my room makes my wall look like a huge piece of cheese, while the brown wall in the living room looks like chocolate, and the wall in the hallway looks like a lime. I'm glad I went with bright colors, it's really brightened the place up (although I guess white walls are as bright as you can go). Unfortunately, associating the walls with food has caused me to get hungry every time I look at one of the wall.s

As for the upcoming week, holiday season is coming up and things are getting a little busy. Kristen, Holly, me, and a bunch of their friends are having a Thanksgiving feast on Saturday, since a bunch of us our leaving early. Yours truly is doing the turkey of course; it should be a good meal. Then, I'm heading off to Hawai'i on Monday until Saturday to chill with my sister, bother-in-law, and my new baby nephew! I can't wait to see the "little guy"; it'll be the first time he gets to meet Uncle Matt. Once I get back, there's only a few more weeks until I head off to Detroit for some good Christmas food and hopefully some snow. That reminds me, I need to get a ride and find someone to take care of the fish. *Sigh* Better just add it to the mounting To Do list.

Until next time, I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving and (if I somehow fall of the Earth between now and then) a Merry Christmas as well!

Oh, and in case you wanted to see paint pictures (since that's what this whole past was kinda supposed to be about), check them out here.

-StM

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The Journey to Work by Bike

Wow, I was exhausted after Friday, and it wasn't from work like the previous week haha. Friday was the first day I rode my bike to and from work. All in all, it's about a 30 mile trip. Here's the story of this great day:


Now, most people who I've told this to either have not believed me or looked at me like something is growing out of my ears. "What?! 30 MILES!?" Yea yea, it sounds far, but I'm a biker, so it's no big deal to me. The ride itself is actually pretty flat and on good roads, so that's not the issue. It's all the logistics of making a commuter ride happen that can be tough.

A few years ago, this idea would've never even crossed my mind. I remember first moving into our house in SLO at my 2nd year at Cal Poly. My car got bashed in pretty good ONE WEEK after I bought it (figures...). I left it at the shop for a few days while it got fixed. Meanwhile, I kepting wondering, "How am I going to get to class?" Our house was about 5 miles from campus, and even though I had 2 bikes (old/new) and I rode quite a bit, the thought never occurred to me. In Michigan, we don't have bike lanes and with the weather, people can't ride year round, so nobody really does. I've never seen someone commuting to work back there.

Anywho, I really got back into biking after my 3rd year while I interned in San Diego. My landlady was a crazy biker, going out and doing 100 miles each day up mountains! (Not sure if she actually did any work though) I got into the bike gear and soon I was biking every other day.

Since then, I've tried to keep up my biking. During part of fall and most of spring quarter last year, I'd bike to school at least 2 to 3 times per week. I figured it's healthy, saves money, and it's green, so why not? I'll admit though, getting started was rough. I had a lot of flats, since I used my old bike. I brought it because I didn't care if it gotten stolen. Turns out I was using the wrong tubes with the wrong values for a long time, which didn't fit properly and would cause many of the flats. There was also the issue of how much stuff to carry and how to clean up once you got there. I ended up getting a messenger bag and washing up in the UU every morning. Usually it was before work, so I was less stressed about getting a flat.

Okay, now that I've sidetracked enough, back to my San Jose ride. At first, I thought it was a little too far to ride. However, with how frustrating Bay Area traffic can be (and it's not even bad by me) and not being able to ride when I get home because of how late it is, the idea of riding to work didn't seem so bad. Hitachi has a pretty good gym with showers, and it would give me my exercise so I wouldn't have to rush home and then try and go run or something, so why not?

First, I planned out a route and tried it out a few times. If you want to see my route, I posted it a post or two back. Next, I made sure I had all the right equipment. I toyed with the idea of using my old bike that I just fixed up, but to be honest, I don't trust it QUITE yet. I just rode that bike to/from the coffee shop the other day (~6 mi). Even though it went well, there are still some kinks to work out (and a few holes in a tire to path :-P). Also, I figured nobody was going to steal my bike at work, so I chose to use my good bike. I got some new equipment and clothing online real cheap from the fall bike sales. Most of it was stuff to keep warm, like a jacket and warmers. At that point, I just needed to pick a day to try out the ride. I was planning on starting out slow (once a week or so) and eventually ramp up the number of rides. I don't think I'd ever ride everyday, especially with 9 a.m. meetings, but I figured I could pull off at least 2-3 times a week like in SLO.

Finally, I decided Friday for the date. Other than that, I just put it off until Thursday night. Man, let me tell ya, I'm a major worry wart and all, but I always forgot what my mom always said, "Everything seems worse at night." That is so true. Even after making my lists of stuff to carry on my bike and nearly passing out on the couch, once I got into bed the worries hit me. "What if I get a flat?...Are there buses close by?...What if I'm really late to work?..." The list went on and on. To tell you the truth, I was amazed that I finally did get to sleep.

When morning came, I got out of bed all groggy, not ready for the ride at all. However, I persisted and got myself out on my bike and actually had a great ride. It was much more peaceful than sitting in traffic, and even with rush hour I still managed to commute in about an hour. The ride home was dark, but pleasant.

I ended up getting home just in time to see the UPS guy drive away from our complex. My new netbook was coming that day, so I actually chased him down on my bike! He was pretty suprised when a guy on a bike forced him to pull over. It turns out that he hadn't been to my place yet (oops). I waited at home until he showed up at my door, no longer suprised by the guy in the bike outfit. I then had a fun evening resting up and playing with my new EEE PC (which is awesome by the way, I'm writing my blog on it right now!)

Along my bike ride that day, I thought of several improvements that would help me for the next (and subsequent) rides. My backpack with all my stuff was WAY too heavy to carry around. In the future, I plan on using my messenger bag and leaving supplies (toiletries, etc...) at work. The hardest part I found at work was figuring out where to dry my towel. We have a locker room, but nothing can be left there overnight and all the showers do get used (which I didn't know, and almost lost my towel when I left it in there). Also, for all the worrying I did before, I have some more ideas about issues while riding. I went out and got some road tires that withstand punctures from rocks, nails, and glass...hell, one guy claims he rode 11,000 miles on a pair of them before getting a flat. (whew!) That, along with knowing the VTA routes, should help me sleep a little better before my next ride.

In terms of schedule, it's getting colder and darker now (especially with daylight savings), but I'm thinking of starting out at once a week every Friday, then migrating to something like every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday (the other days are early meeting days). I've realized that I probably won't replace driving for every day of the week; that's a LOT of biking.

With that in mind, not only does that amount of exercise take a while to build up to, but also it causes a heavy calorie drain. For me, this is a definite problem. I'm not complaining, I love being thin, I just want to make sure I don't wither away. I still need to get my blood tests done to make sure everything else (cholesterol, etc) is good too, so I probably should get that done before I venture out on a bike every week.

My next ride is slated for next week. My guess is Wednesday, since I'm heading to SLO that Thursday night. Wish me luck and look out for me on the roads of south SJ if you're in town!

-StM

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My Old Bike: Night and Day

Well, after about a month of getting parts and tuning, my vintage 1970s Schwinn Varsity is ready to hit the road (I think). Take a look, here's a shot from before:


...and after:


Pretty cool, right? I'm a big fan of the bright red handlebar tape, a cheap buy from eBay. Nothing like the original from the 70s haha. Most of the hardware is the same, I just cleaned, washed, oiled, and tuned the bike so that it was running smoothly again. There are a number of new items, including:

- Tubes
- Tires
- Rim Tape
- Brake and Derailleur Cables
- Chain
- Handlebar Tape
- Lights
- Rack

It was quite a challenge getting it running smoothly again, many of the parts were out of true or bent. However, in the end it seems to work great. I'm amazed how similar it looks to my old bike (which I miss dearly :-( ...) Let's hope it doesn't have all the same initial problems as my old one though.

Today was meant to be the maiden ride for the bike, but I ran into a few snags, as with any new (old) bike like this. I got home fairly late, so it was dark by the time I put the last touches on the bike. I decided to attempt a 3 mile ride to the coffee shop to read my book and work on my novel. I should've known better, my previous old bike had issues repeatedly over the years.

After only a few hundred feet, the back wheel started rubbing badly against the frame. Then the wheel totally fell off and jammed against the frame. Whoops... Looks like I forgot to tighten and lock some bolts. After dragging the thing back to my garage (luckily I only made it a few hundred feet), I took apart the back wheel and forced it back into place and tightened everything really well.

I'm so happy I didn't get stuck in the dark somewhere in SJ randomly, THAT would not have been fun! I decided to lay low for tonight and just ride it around the garage and the block real quick. Everything worked pretty well. The gears were mostly smooth and the brakes worked fine.

Tomorrow, I plan on attempting the 3 mile ride again (during the day of course). Tune in to see what happens...hopefully I'll get farther than my apartment complex this time.

There are still some minor adjustments to be made, which I'm hoping to fix: the gears slip a little bit (a bent derailleur) and my front wheel hops (it's not true and needs the spokes tightened). After all those minor fixes, I'm hoping that this bike lasts for a long time.

With this bike, I'm replacing my other old red 10-speed that I sold in SLO. I didn't have the space to move it up here and I figured I wouldn't need it, so I sold it to get parted. MAN, was I wrong. An old bike like this is so useful. My newer bike is great, but I don't want to dress in biking gear and clip shoes to go to the coffee shop or Target. I mean, some people like to do that (my clip shoes have covers called "coffee covers"...apparently people do wear this stuff to the local Starbucks), but I rather just hop on and off a bike for those short trips. I also don't want to worry about dings and the possibility of my bike getting stolen. That's why a bike like this is so great.

Along with my test ride tomorrow, I'm also going to try out my new commuter route. It's about 30 miles roundtrip to HGST, so it will be a bit of a haul early in the morning, but I'm up to it. I found a great utility online that uses Google Maps to map routes for biking, running, whatever. Here's my second attempt at creating a route:

My Commuter Route to HGST


My first route was similiar, but some of the roads ended or were too busy. I don't want to be breathing exhaust along my whole trip. I've tried to update my route to take quieter and more direct roads this time. I even got some good advice from my manager Steve who's from the area and knows the traffice situation better.

With winter coming, the rain will come, so I'm not sure how much riding I'll get in right away, but I want to at least test out the route and get a feel for the ride after a few trials during the week. Eventually, I hope to build up to riding every day. That will involve changing my work schedule, how I dress and shower, etc, but I've done it all before in SLO when I biked 10 miles to and from Cal Poly every other day. In the end, it's all about the same 3 things:

1) Pollute less
2) Save money
3) Excercise more

It's a triple win! I mean there's the longer commute time and possibility of being late (flats, etc), but it's not like I have a final to get to anymore. And who knows, with how bad traffic can get in the Bay Area, I might not get there that much later haha.

We'll see how it goes. Wish me safe travels on my bike ride...make that rides tomorrow!

By the way, if you'd like to see more before and after photos of the bike, check 'em out here:

My Bike Pics

Later...

-StM

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A day of "firsts", but none for me thanks

Today signifies two events of the year, neither of which affects me. Tuesday marks not only the first day of fall but also the first day of classes at Poly for Fall Quarter. Even though I don't really "celebrate" either anymore, I just thought I'd comment on them a little.

The first is the Fall Equinox, which if I hadn't heard about on CNN this morning would've totally slipped my mind. Why? Well, today it was sunny and 100 degrees in San Jose, not quite the fall weather I remember. Get ready for a trip down memory lane, because here we go...

Fall to me is one of the four seasons of the year. That sounds like a really silly thing to say. "Of course Matt, everyone knows that there are 4 seasons." Well, I'd say the same thing before I moved to California. Out here, we get two seasons: rainy and sunny. The rainy season (or winter as it's called out here) encompasses November to February or so and consists of off and on rain, sometimes for days at a time. It can get pretty torrential at times, but nothing like the thunderstorms back east. Then, for the rest of the year it's the same weather everyday with just variations in temperature. I got to admit, it gets a LITTLE boring.

I miss fall; it's a great time of year. I remember all the leaves changing color, the temperatures dropping, the rain, and all the hauling and burning of leaves once they've blown down. Those were good times. I've always been a workaholic, so cleaning up leaves was always a ton of fun. We had some huge trees both at our house in GP and the cottage. All it took was one good rain or wind storm and they all came tumbling down. The lawns would go from their late summer yellowish-green to a checkered pattern of yellow, red, orange, and brown. Out come the rakes, the leaf blower, the tarps. If we were at the cottage, the fire was started (we can still burn leaves there).

I mean I've lived out west for 4 years now, but I still can't shake the mental feeling that it should be getting colder and leaves should be falling. I'm sorry, but sweating here in 100 degrees is NOT my kind of first day of fall. Winter is just as strange; without snow, it's just not winter to me. Again, I'm used to it by now, but I'm not sure if you can every shake the seasons after living through them all your childhood.

On the otherhand, I'm sure those who move to places that actually have weather (i.e. Nikki) will have the opposite experience. I'm sure come November she'll be having a great time with the snow, but for now at least she gets to see how great fall is (or at least I hope she thinks so).

What else was today? Oh yea, the first day of school...or not haha. At least for me. I've already gotten over the idea of not being in school anymore (at least until grad school), but just thinking that today is the first day back is a little weird. I feel like I'm behind a little bit; I forgot to get my books, I don't know where my classes are, I didn't move in all my stuff, I haven't gotten my hours at work...oh wait, I'm free! I guess I'm happy to be out and done, but the academic part of me still misses it. Someday I'll go back, but for now I'm having a great time just being out on my own. Even though I can study all day and night, I was born to work and I'm living the dream right now.

For all those still in school, I wish you guys all good luck. Believe me, I KNOW how tough it can be. I'm sitting here complaining about the heat while sitting in my cool apartment and living in AC at work. Over at Poly, you're lucky if you get to stay in air conditioning. I know I always loved going to work just for that haha. I still miss SLO a little bit, but I'm sure I'll be making plenty of trips back down. Maybe I'll even come back as a recruiter once the economy picks up, who knows?

Whether you're enjoying the first day of fall or school (or neither haha), hope everyone's enjoying themselves. As for me, I've put in a couple hours fixing up the vintage bike, time to clean up and read something I think.

Buenas noches...

-StM

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Apartment Pictures Update

Hey all,


By popular demand, I put up a bunch of updated pics from my place in San Jose. Feel free to check em out over at:


You probably noticed the old bike/new bike thing going on there...I bought an old 1970s Schwinn Varsity. It's pretty beat up, but I figured I'd try to sand it down and fix it up. I've been looking for an older, beat up road or hybrid bike to use as a commuter and for around town. I don't wanna be biking around on my nice bike to Target or the coffee shop in my biking gear and outfit (I'd look like Spiderman as Blake put it). I'm sad that I sold my old bike SLO for cheap, because it was definitely worth a lot and the guy was just parting it. People snatch up bikes like crazy in CA, whether for parts or to ride. I've been looking for a few weeks, and I must say I saw this thing and ran out to get it. It was a good price and looks like a cool vintage bike (without the vintage price). Of course I'll need to pump some money into it, but I think it's definitely worth it.

Stay turned. Later...

-StM

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Road Rage that'd make Chicagoans Cry

Road rage. We all get it, I don't care how nice you are. I'll admit, I am prone to it every now and then. If it's a stressful day or I'm late to something, I'll occasionally shout something in my car, but that's about it. Being from Michigan, I've grown up cutting people off and squeezing into lanes without a care. That's just a way of life in the midwest; we do whatever it takes to get to point A to point B. However, people rarely ever gave me the finger or started swearing out their windows.

In California though, road rage is quite a different animal. People like to be a lot more expressive when it comes to letting you know that they're pissed. I think part of it isn't that I'm a bad driver; people just don't know how to drive in this state. I do my best to let people in and give others room, but no matter what, people still find ways to get pissed at me. The Bay Area has been pretty bad so far in terms of road rage, and I have two stories to prove it.

The other day, I was driving home from work, listening to music. I was chilling in the right lane waiting to get over so I could exit and change freeways to head home. In California though, half the freeways have offramps that are also onramps (like this one). At the same point I was checking to get over, a bunch of people got on. I got stuck in some lifted Suburban's blind spot that was trying to get out of the exit lane (which I needed to get into). Rather than be cut off (or hit) by this huge SUV, I sped up past the guy and then merged into the exit lane. Well, he didn't like the extra five seconds in the exit lane while I drove past him. He swerved out of the exit lane, over a few lanes, all the while giving me the finger while swerving through rush hour traffic. Nice.

Today was my favorite road rage incident by far. I rushed over the fish store after a hike tonight to get some water for my tank. When I pulled into the fish store lot, there was one open spot and another that a car was pulling out of. A van, which was closer to the open spot, had his blinker on for a spot. I figured, "Well, I'll take the spot that the car is pulling out of, since it's closer to me and the van is waiting for the other spot." Even after the car left, I waved the van to pull in, but he didn't budge. I decided to park in the spot closer to me, leaving the spot closer to the van open for him.

And then all hell broke loose.

Apparently the van driver wanted the spot I pulled into (maybe he couldn't manuever into the spot closer to him?) He pulled right behind me, blocked me in, and proceeded to give me both fingers and yell the f*** word (in various forms) at me. Keep in mind, my windows were closed and I think the van's were too. I could still HEAR the guy yelling! This went on for 30 seconds (I just waited in the car fearing more verbal beatdown). The driver then gunned it, and the van burned rubber and squeeled off into the other half of the parking lot.

I went into the fish store and had the guy begin filling up my water jug for my tank. As I was wandering by the coral tanks looking at stuff, I realized, "Damn, that guy was parking to go to the fish store, this is gonna be fun..." Sure enough, a few minutes later I spot some older guy out of the corner of my eye in a loud shirt GLARING at me. Well, I knew why he was pissed. I waited a little while and then casually wandered by more fish tanks, closer to the guy. Eventually, I was right next to him, so I look up, and he looks away. Ah, a coward. Not so tough without your car, eh?

Then I hear him mutter "f***er" under his breath...

Alright, that's it! I decided to play the bigger person, so I politely try to apologize and explain. "Hi sir, I think I stole your parking spot. I didn't mean too; I thought you were taking the other spot." Well, I should've known that would just piss him off more. All I heard was "I don't want to talk to you!....you asshole, pay attention next time!...leave me alone!...I'm leaving!" Hey, at least I tried. I wasn't even trying to be sarcastic (although he probably took it as that). At least I felt better now that I gave him my reasons and tried to apologize.

I paid for my water and left, checking for damage to my car, since that guy seemed like the type to key my car. In the future, I guess I will try and be even MORE cautious and friendly while driving. I realize getting stressed out while driving isn't worth it. Traffic happens; you get there eventually.

In the meantime, I think that guy from the fish store needs some SERIOUS road rage training, like the stuff Marge took in The Simpsons.

I'm out for now, tune in for my next random SJ experience!

-StM

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San Jose || South Haven

As promised, I'm going to stray away from the usual week synopsis I give and concentrate more on random thoughts that float around my head. I do want to thank everyone for the bday wishes, gifts and adventures to SF, the As game, Inglorious Bastards in Livermore, and Muir Woods and Sausalito. I had a great time!


Now that I've been in my apartment for a month (it's felt a lot longer), I've started to notice a very strange parallel to my cottage in South Haven and my place in San Jose. Of course, SJ doesn't have the clean air, Lake Michigan, blueberry trees, or thunderstorms, but I do seem to be continually reminded of our place on 77th street back in MI.

Anytime you explore a new place, you're never sure what you'll find. South Haven (SH) and SJ both brought new experiences. New places to see, things to do, stuff to buy...it brings with it a mix of emotions: excitement, worry, curiosity, frustration, suspense, pride...and I'm amazed at how it can be found in two very different corners of the US.

On the one hand you have South Haven, a sleepy little town on the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan. We bought our cottage in 2002, uncertain of what we'd gotten ourselves into. I'd never moved anywhere new in my life; I grew up in our home in GP. Even though it was a vacation home, the temporary move from city suburb to rural township every few weeks was quite an experience. We learned how a septic tank worked, how to turn on the water pump, how to soften water...all things us townfolk never dealt with before. For me, it taught me the need to branch out a little and try new things outside the "bubble" of GP.

The house itself was a blank slate for us to etch in our own fashion. Wallpaper came down, paint was brushed and rolled on. Carpet torn up, gardens replanted, new and old furniture trucked in, assembled, shoved through the doors. It became the true "home away from home", a little escape from the GP. We settled into our routine, showing up every few weeks, shoveling ourselves out (and getting snowed in) in the winter, battling the woodpeckers and grass in the spring, gathering blueberries and laying on the beach in summer, and burning leaves and watching the rain in the fall.

We explored every little place and scene around South Haven. Festivals happen year round, selling everything from arts/crafts to blueberries. The Kal-Haven trail, stretching 33 miles between SH and Kalamazoo, offers a great bike ride (aside from passing the pig farm). You can head up to Saugatuck and feel cultured by all the art galleries, or you can stuff your face with a great burger down at Redamaks close to the (Indiana) border in New Buffalo. We have checked out every little shop on the three block main street in downtown, some two three times as businesses come and go. I can tell you where the best ice cream is, how to get to the dump, or what's inside the old abandoned camp down the street...

It's what I've always thought of as a cottage, a little place frozen in time that you can go to and always have a good time. Of course, not all is good. We've had our share of somber moments as well, especially when the sump pump failed, flooding the basement twice and leaving the new carpet and painted walls in shambles. But we picked up, cleaned the mess, and moved on.

So what's with San Jose then? I've moved to three different places in California since freshman year, so what's the big difference? The move alone reminded me of our cottage: nothing in the apartment and a van outside with my life in it. Now that I'm working, I can actually afford the things that make my place a home. My apartment is a yet another blank slate to fill with furniture, paintings, electronic gadgets, and all the trinkets that make a place yours.

I'm still in the exploration phase, just like we went through with SH. I'm searching out the best restaurants, the coolest bike rides, the strangest festivals, you name it. As the days go on, I branch out farther into this city, trying to find things to do and meet some new people. This can be the most exciting time in your new home, and I intend to push that to the limit.

Like SH, I'm sure I'll have my fair share of obsticles too, but seeing our place back in MI gives me confidence that I can survive on my own and make a great place to live out here in the Bay Area. Of course I'm uncertain what will come next half the time, but that's half the fun right? For all of you moving on from college or just moving somewhere new, I say go out, find the most random things to do, go to places and events you never would of thought to go to. You might just find something or someone really cool. Look at me, I've gone to more art shows in the past month or two than I'm been in the past ten years! Am I a true connoisseur? Nah, I'm just checking out what there is to do. You will probably come across a few things that aren't your style (I haven't really crossed one of those yet), but you just move on to the next thing on the list.

To me, a routine sucks the energy and fun right out of a new place. What?! Matt doesn't like routine? Of course I do, but you gotta keep mixing it up and trying out everything when you're new, otherwise you'll just get stuck in a rut. My "To Do" lists get longer everyday, but I'm having a good time adding more to the lists while crossing off a few items at a time.

With time, I'm sure the routine will come, as it always does...everyone likes routine, no matter how much you deny it. But by then, I hope that I can call SJ my "new home", just like SH became my "home away from home".

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The closing of a week, the making of a book

I seem to be stuck on the "one blog per week" schedule at the moment, but maybe that's enough. This past week (so far as I can remember) was pretty mediocre, so let me try and pull together a run down.

Work has been moving along. I've got a couple projects now and even have gotten to do some testing in lab! I always like doing hands-on work (the go old "Learn by Doing" methodology from Cal Poly). Glad to see Jimmy down in the lab. He still makes fun of me for deserting the firmware team, but it's all in good fun. Last Wednesday was the annual Firmware/Hardware team outing to Santa Cruz; it's always a fun time. I was kind of disappointed that we had to buy our own lunch (hot dogs from Costco of course!), but hey those budget cuts run deep, even affecting our picnics! The games were a little less intense than two years ago. We didn't go running up and down the beach with buckets of water (Jimmy and I were spared). Overall it was a good time and not too crazy.

Wednesday was also my first MeetUp outing. I gotta admit it was pretty fun. We met up to see Monty Python downtown in San Pedro Square, which is a cool place with tons of restaurants. Lee, the organizer, was very friendly, along with all who came. There were only 5 or so of us, but we had a good time. I hope to go to more of the their events, maybe join another group or two. It is just good to get out and meet people, since I'm by myself over here in San Jose for now.

My biking is getting a bit better; the route I tried out the previous week seemed a lot easier. I think I've found my official exercise run. Next, I want to figure out if biking to work and around the area can work out. I really miss my old commuting bike. :( Having my nice bike is great, but I don't want to go around in all my gear and worry about it getting stolen. Maybe I can find a junker on Craigslist. I'm also working on getting into the gym at Hitachi, but I need to get a doctor's approval first. Really? I'm 22 and in good shape. Oh well, now that I have insurance, maybe I can get those appointments.

Friday was awesome, Rob and Ursula came to visit. I gave Ursula her birthday presents; she seemed to like them, although I got the usual scolding for spending too much. This week's my birthday, so I'm sure I'll get too many gifts from her, which will make me feel bad, but oh well. (Yes Ursula, I know you read this.) Anywho, after presents we headed over to Gordon Biersh in downtown SJ. They had a really cool outdoor setup inbetween the buildings. Great food and live music. Afterwords, we headed over to A Perfect Finish...yea great name right? They serve desserts and various alcohols. However, they don't serve any mixed drinks, just straight alcohols. We shared some desserts and I tried a liqueur that was really good. That was most of Friday, a pretty mellow night, but a nice little adventure downtown.

Saturday, I explored a lot of the surrounding cities and neighbourhoods. In the morning I headed over to Los Gatos (LG) to check it out. They also had an art fair, the Fiesta de Artes, going on that I wanted to see. I didn't really find anything interesting at the fair, but I did take a tour of the city. It has a ton of shops and restaurants; it kind of reminds me of downtown Grosse Pointe Woods. I tried out a local sandwich shop before heading back home. I headed over to the fish shop to get supplies to clean up my reef tank and get it back into shape. That wasted most of the afternoon before I headed out to Mountain View. I was going to Cupertino, but from reading online it sounded like there wasn't much of a downtown if any (which my co-worker David confirmed today haha). Mountain View's downtown has a TON of restaurants; I don't know if I'd ever get to try them all. The rest of the evening was pretty boring.

Sunday was my hike day. I tried out a "moderate" hike in my new book. I wanted to play it safe, since most of these books are written for people who could hike 50 miles/day. Turns out, I was actually disappointed. I did a 4-mile loop trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains (not the ones on fire). The climb was a little too easy for my taste, and the trail was pretty much just a road surrounded by freeways, fenches, and powerlines. Not as scenic as I had hoped. Next time I'm going to try out the longer and more difficult trails...

Let's see. Oh! The title of blog...forgot about that. I've officially dived into writing my book! It's not much so far...random plot lines, flash cards, and notes in notebooks and on my computer...but it's started. I'm trying to spend and hour or two a day writing out ideas. I've also decided that reading a book on writing a book is pointless. It totally stifles the creative process. I'm already lacking in creativity, so reading this structured book isn't helping. I think I'll just use it for quick pointers and reference rather than a guide. Besides, it is based on the idea that the person reading it just has one idea. Well, I have a plot, characters, details, etc...I think I'm a little past that. The book itself is coming together. Remember, if you have any thoughts or ideas, I would be glad to entertain them. And no, I will not let you pick your pseudonym! I will try and post some pics of the writing process as I move along. Of course, I won't give anything away haha.

This Thursday is my birthday! Woo, I have Friday off too! It's hard to get excited about it now that I'm.....23?....yea, wow I feel old. I always do, since I'm the first one to turn out of all my friends. It's always been that way. Well, it should be a fun couple of days. Ursula's planning Friday out; should be fun. Blake and Nikki are also coming into town Thursday, and we'll be going with Rob and Ursula to the As vs. Tigers game on Friday night. What are the odds? I'm not sure about Saturday/Sunday, but I'm going to plan a trip up north of the bay if no one is going to hang around. Maybe Muir Woods? We'll see.

Until next time kids (hopefully not next week)...

-StM

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Latest Apartment Pics Up

Hey y'all,

Just dropping a note that the latest pics are up of my place in SJ. You can check em out here:

My Apartment - August 2009

I'm especially proud of my end table made of boxes haha. More stuff's on the way once I make sure all my bonus/paychecks are in line. Next up: frames for everything, end table, coffee table, and a vacuum.

Peace...

-StM

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A day trip to SF, another pair of sunglasses lost

Before I get to SF, a quick recap on the week: .....

No, just kidding, it wasn't THAT boring. Work is getting much more interesting; they've assigned me a few tasks/projects to work on. I can tell that they're probably considered mundane tasks by most, but I'm having a lot of fun learning the ropes. I hope that I continue to have plenty of work to do (sounds like I will). The big company picnic in SC is this week, we'll see how I hold up during the games this time around on the hardware team (aka the "dark side" to my firmware buddies). I think I can handle it.

I found a new bike route! It's about a 20-mile exercise run that travels through Campbell, Saratoga, Los Gatos, and a bunch of other surrounding neighborhoods. I grabbed it off of MapMyRide.com, which is a great site. I was a little worried that there wouldn't be enough hills to make the ride worthwhile. WRONG. How could I forget from two years ago; those hills west of Saratoga can REALLY fight back. Not that they are really steep and high like those I took on in San Diego; no, it's worse. These hills are at a slow/medium incline and they last for MILES...not cool. You turn the corner, there's more uphill, turn again, more hill. Does it ever end? (Of course it does, but I like the dramatic buildup...) I'm also toying with biking to work. It's about 10-15 miles through flat areas, plus we have showers at work. I'm just not sure if I want to use my nice bike (and wear my "Spiderman costume" as Blake so nicely pointed out). I may get a junker bike to ride around, because I'd like to ride to the store too by bike, save some gas and be green.

I'm already missing the house in SLO, or more so my roomies and friends. I like being on my own and having my own place, but man, meeting new people in a new place is TOUGH, especially for me. I'm trying out MeetUp.com, which hooks people up with common interests. I'm still looking into good groups, they have them for newcomers to the Bay as well as for different age groups. Shoot, they even have an INTJ personality group! (An ENFP already sent me a message to join their forums lol) We'll see how that goes.

Other quick week updates:
- Found a new fish store with a HUGE selection and good prices. Definitely my new store for my reef tank.
- Got a haircut at a cool place and have started trying a new do. I haven't really mastered it yet, I'll probably post some pics one of these days.
- Went to SJ Friday night, checked out San Pedro Square. They also have a First Friday Festival on 1st street which was kinda cool. The square has a few bars and mostly restaurants, so it'd be a cool place to go with people one of these days.

***

Alright, now on to SF. Kristen and Ursula, you'll appreciate this (and Nikki and Blake will laugh): I spent part of Friday planning my entire Saturday in SF out. That's a definite if you're going somewhere, even if you want to play it by ear; there's got be SOME sort of basic plan. And to help with my plan, I grabbed a book at B and N on Friday. I had a hard time choosing, since the tourist books had stuff to do but were too...touristy. On the other extreme, the books for people moving to this area were too...boring; they told you where to find the local schools, grocery stores, etc. Not for me! In the end, I found a great little number (dad, you'll love this): San Francisco: Free & Dirt Cheap. I gotta say, it was a great investment. It's still a tourist book, but a lot of stuff avoids the main tourist mess (well some of it, the stuff that costs big $$$). It also talks about places to eat, sleep, explore, and more. I made a list of places I wanted to see and then picked a bunch of it based on a map of where I was going to go. Don't worry Ursula, I skipped the Musèe Mécanique for now. I also left a lot of art-related stops off since they weren't on my route. I combined it with a bunch of old stops since I hadn't been to SF since Blake and I visited Nikki and Ursula last year. In summary, my trip consisted of the following:

- Ferry Building (Farmer's Market)
- Union Square
- Chinatown
- Coit Tower
- Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf
- Ghirardeli Square
- Cannery
- Lombard Street

I got up early this morning, ate a little, and drove to BART, which I took to SF. Next time, I think I'm trying out CalTrain; driving 40 miles to BART seems like a lot of effort and gas, but it's still probably cheaper.

The first place I headed to was the Ferry Building, which I had never been to. I went to check out the Farmer's Market, which is why I got an early start. They sell a TON of fresh organic fruits and other foods, along with giving all the free samples you could want. I checked out the various stuff, deciding that it probably wouldn't last the whole day and trip back to SJ. There was also an arts and crafts fair in front of the building, which I checked out. I'm still trying to figure out how to fill out all my wall space. I bought a small set of 3 paintings of SF.

Next I grabbed lunch real quick at a bagel shop before heading over to Union Square. I was hoping that there would be an art show going on over there too, but unfortunately it was an event with all the local SF chefs giving lessons, so it was all closed off. Too bad.

I walked over to Chinatown to see if there were any buys for my place. No such luck. I did get to see a cool parade of several of those people dressed up as giant dragons. They ran from store to store, dropping firecrackers all over the place. It was pretty cool.

After that I went over to the Coit Tower. I can't believe I never had gone up there. The steps alone were pretty cool; I guess there's something like 370 steps up Filmore Street to the tower. I took a lot of good shots from the top. However, like the free book suggested, I avoided paying the $5 for the short elevator ride to the top of the tower. Besides, it was PACKED. Going to SF during a summer weekend was probably not a good idea, but I felt like doing it. Tough luck me.

I walked over to Pier 39 to search for more art and posters to hang in my apartment. I couldn't believe I didn't find anything at City Art, the huge poster store on the pier. I guess Kristen's policy of not buying it unless "you absolutely love it" was kicking in. It's probably a good strategy for an ex-impulse buyer like myself. Of course, not having much of a source of income during college killed that habit. I did end up finding some posters in the National Parks store. It sounds kinda weird, but they had one that was a cool display of all the different artsy park logos. The other was one I saw at City Art, but it was $5 cheaper. (gotta love the deal)

I checked out Fisherman's Wharf REAL quick; it was absolutely overrun like you would figure. I did stop at the Boudin Factory, which I guess I've always ignored until the book mentioned it. I toyed with doing the $3 tour, but I stuck with the free views of the chefs making bread. (including crocodiles and turtles out of loaves!)

By this time, I was kinda of exhausted from all the walking. I ended up walking about 4-5 miles today. I skipped the trolley both ways since it was packed, plus I've done it enough and could use the money. I headed over to the park in front of Ghirardeli Square to people watch. I brought my notes on my novel in case I needed a rest, so I spent a little time jotting down more ideas and picking character names. I'm sorry to say I'm not going to go into details, you'll just have to wait until it is published haha.

I went up to Ghirardeli Square, checked out the shops, and grabbed a sample chocolate at the shop. I felt like some soup, so a grabbed a breadbowl at Boudin before heading back to BART.

On the way back, I took a random road and just listened to music. It's fun to just check out a city. It's a grid anyways, so it's not like I was going to get lost. I put on my iPod and just kinda blended in with everyone, checking out the city outside of the touristy areas. I grabbed a quick pic of Lombard St, since I don't think I ever saw it up close.

I headed back via BART and drove home. Only once I got back to the BART parking lot did I finally have my phone again. I kinda forgot it in the car ALL day. Whoops. In the meantime, I managed to lose my sunglasses somewhere between Boudin and walking. That's how it goes. It's also why I buy cheap ones now; I'm always losing them.

Tonight I just took it easy, watched a movie, and planned some stuff for tomorrow. I'm doing a little shopping, maybe a hike, we'll see. My legs are pretty tired from today, but I want to try out my other new book, a list of 100 hikes up here in the Bay Area. I still have a lot of stuff I need for my place, like tables, lamps, frames, a microwave, etc...you know, just a tiny list. Some of the stuff I'm hoping to get for my bday, we'll see. I'm watching my money, although now that I have a higher income I'm not getting so nervous, but I still watch my spending. No sign-on bonus yet, but it should be there within a few weeks. I got my moving and first paycheck already, which was awesome. Now I just need to set up some vacation...and plan some trips woo! I'm thinking Europe for a month next year (I can borrow a week). We'll see...

Alright, that's 1,800 words of randomness, I hope you were entertained :P...I write a lot "sometimes".

-StM

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Sexy and Thrifty

Well, I'm back. It took me a week, but I'm here. I've finally settled down a little more into my apartment (Photos I know, working on that...) so I have the time to blog. My place is coming along nicely, although I still am missing artwork on the walls, some tables, lights, and etc, but it's getting there.

I never really blogged on the move, so here's the short version:

1) My dad and I packed everything into a van
2) We rushed to SJ because I took my fish too
3) We unpacked and killed ourselves moving the couch
4) Done.

That really doesn't give that whole move justice, but it's all I got. I had a fun time hanging out with everyone at Kristen's grad party that weekend too. Here friend Pete was in from England; he's a pretty cool guy, even if he did spray me with water like 10 times that day.

In the working world, my first week was a little slow and uneventful, but that's pretty standard. I didn't get my laptop until Friday, so I really couldn't do much work until I got that. I'm all ready for this week, I have a mentor and project assigned to me. Now comes the next phase: reading over all the specs and code and trying to figure out what it all means. It always seems daunting at first, but after going through a few internships and holding my own, I think I'll be fine with it.

Now to this weekend and the title...what the hell am I talking about? On Friday, Kristen and Ursula both paid me a visit (not together). Kristen came up for the day to get her housing situ in Palo Alto settled for September and Ursula was home for the weekend from Davis. We went out to Elephant Bar Friday night and had a good dinner.

As a side rant, I really don't like how as of last month, ALL restaurants now have all the nutritional info for every food item on the menu listed. I know, I have nothing to worry about, but when you stick in 10 pages of that stuff in the back of my menu, I'm going to accidentally flip through it. And if I see that my meal is 1400 calories and 67 grams of fat, I'll still feel really bad about eating it. I swear from now on, any foods I like already, I'm going to refuse looking at the facts on them. I mean, I've survived a healthy life so far on those things, why should this change my eating habits?

Ok...back to being sexy and thrifty...so we all ate and hung out for a bit on Friday night. On the way back to my place, Kristen INSISTED that we stop and get my housewarming gift. For me that was Nutella and white bread. Apparently I just HAD to try it. I'll admit though, it is pretty good, especially with bananas. (there Kristen, I said it, okay?) Kristen went home after and then Ursula and I headed downtown to check out the SJ nightlife. I gotta say, for how dead the place looks during the day sometimes, it was really hopping. There's a lot of clubs, lounges, and bars all over 1st and 3rd. We decided to hit one on Saturday.

Saturday...man that was a planner's dream. We got SO much done. Starting at 9 a.m., the Comcast guy showed up. AWESOME. My new HD DVR, 2303480923480 channels, and 16 meg internet is a great new addition to this apartment. Of course the guy took a while to set it up, and even punched a hole through my wall, but it's done.

Next was the flea market over on the east side of town. Man, that place was huge. I've never seen so much random stuff. I drove by it two years ago on my bike, but I never knew it was so vast. They had the most random stuff. I was hoping to find some furniture, but it was all pretty expensive still and I had no way to get it home. Ursula and I got a kick out of the things that looked like extra padding for your butt. Like I said, strange things lol.

The title is from the flea market. I was telling Ursula that I'd be attracted to any cute girl who I met shopping her since they'd be "sexy and thrifty". That's my type right there, I said it. Actually, it's a little more in-depth than that, but those would be 2 qualities I could go for haha.

After a few hours at the flea market2 we stopped at Togos to grab a sandwich. This was our only stop for the day. Of course we happened to see the nutritional info on the food we ordered, but I already bought my combo and ate half of it, so tough luck Matt.

Then we headed over to Valley Fair and a few other malls for clothes and shoes for me. I made the mistake of telling Ursula I needed some new stuff...I had to go now. I found a couple of new shirts and shoes. I hunted the world for some dark brown pants, but that wasn't happening. I was very impressed by Ursula's display of restraint. She barely bought anything at the mall, and NO SHOES. Wow. I even walked through the boots and high heels, but she held herself from buying any more shoes. Ursula, I gotta say, you have way too many shoes haha.

Okay, so that was another bunch of hours. Now we're tired from walking around all day. We headed back to my place to just eat something small there before hitting the club.

We got all dressed up (I wish we had a picture, we looked cute lol) to head out to SJ. Of course we were already tired of walking, and now we headed out to dance. On top of it, Ursula wore her cute high heels. In the end, I had to support her while she limped back to the car after, but that's how it goes I guess. The club was pretty nice; we just missed paying the $20 cover and drinks were pretty good. The music mix was good, but we kinda got too close to the speakers. I still don't think my hearing is back 100%. We looked at some of the lounges too, but I felt like dancing in a club. The lounges seemed less crowded; they're more for hanging out with friends and grabbing some drinks. You can dance, but it just didn't see like the venue I was looking for that night. Oh, and there were quite a few creepers and the place we went. I guess that's bound to happen in any big city you go to. We headed back home a little early because my feet were dead tired and Ursula's heels were getting to her. We both ended up passing out at my place.

Whew...so Sunday was a little more chillax. We got up late (for us that's 9:30-10ish) and headed back to Ursula's home in Fremont. We checked out the Fremont Air and Wine Festival, which was pretty cool. More walking of course. That was my third art fair in less than a month. Ursula found all sorts of stuff to buy. Me on the other hand, I need bigger art/stuff to fill my vaulted walls, so an art fair is the best place to get a deal on large art. I think I'll stick to posters for the big walls. I did find one cool pic of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction, check it out:



Now, I'm on a mission to find it's Mackinac Bridge counterpart, which I saw at the South Haven art fair. I did a lot of research today, but so far no luck. Here's one that's close:



I emailed Mike, the guy who wrote the book above to see if he can help me out.

After the art fair, I headed home while Ursula went home and then back to Davis. I just loafed around at home, cleaned up some random files, ate, etc...

I'm tired, and I have work tomorrow. I'll keep you updated on the apartment progress. And YES, I'll get pictures up soon I promise!


-StM

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My (Second) First Day at Work

Hey y'all,

I've been a slacker lately and haven't been blogging. Well, I don't think lazy is exactly the best term. Over the past week I've been back in SLO, packed up, moved to SJ, set up shop in my sweet new apartment, bought a killer new TV, and started work at Hitachi (HGST). I guess that's my version of "lazy" haha, at least in terms of blogging. I figued I'd save the whole move to SJ for a blog entry when I have some good pics. For now, a little bit on my work.

The reason I call it my "second" first day is because I took an internship with HGST 2 years ago. I had fun with everyone at work and liked the area. I was kinda lonely since there were no other interns in my area, but everybody at work was awesome. Back then I worked for the firmware team. whereas now I've moved over to the hardware team (or "dark side" according to my old buddies at work). I get to see a lot my old friends along with quite a few new ones.

Anyways, my first day was pretty long and boring. I spent most of the day doing HR orientations. I now have a whole book on safety, benefits, vacation, retirement, and other stuff to mull over. I'm taking it easy tonight, watching Superbad on my new TV and getting some exercise. I figure I'll hit this Hitachi stuff hard tomorrow.

I got lost going to my actual work. The HR site is at a different spot, and in two years they've managed to move a bunch of streets and change their names. VERY nice. The badge place closed, so I don't have my ID to get in yet. Whoops. My manager Steve came down and let me in anyways for a tour. I got to say hi to everyone I'll be working with, along with all my old friends. That's about it, no work today. Back again tomorrow when hopefully I get to do something more useful.

I'm going to try and make these a bit more interesting, I no my life updates are bleh. I'm planning on starting my book in the next few weeks. My apartment is coming together; more on that in my next post. We will see how Hitachi goes; the picnic in SC is coming up early in August with the software guys. That should be VERY interesting now that I'm on the other side.

Stay tuned...

-StM

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Time to Move

Now that Boston's off my mind, let's see about Detroit.

I was kinda out of it my first day back. I passed out for two hours during the afternoon for my 45 minute nap. Whoops. I felt kinda bad to because I was half awake when my mom surprised me with the news that everyone from my family was coming Thursday for an early 23rd birthday party. I was kinda groggy, so rather than excitement, my reply was "Huh?".

Thursday I took a bike ride with my dad. It's become a kind of tradition for us to go out on a ride when I'm home to check out GP and Detroit. It was a great day for a ride and I got to see everything that has changed in town. (I'm just kidding, not much ever changes!) I also did some more lawn mowing. Yea, nothing really exiting there...

The birthday party was really cool. We had eighteen people over, which is a ton for us. Everybody I know was there, which was really cool. I got a few gifts, but I was mainly there to see how everyone was doing (and the cake of course).

I'm really glad I came home for these few weeks. Although I didn't really get to see many of my old high school buddies, I did get to hang with the family. I could have come around my bday, but Laura, Mark, and Rune are heading into town in early August for a few weeks, so I think I'd be kinda overshadowed by the arrival of the baby to MI. I'm sad I still won't get to see the little guy in person though :( Guess I'll just need to grab a plane ticket to HI with all my new money 8-)

Let's see, let's see. Today we checked out the Ann Arbor art fair. We must've walked several miles because that fair was HUGE. Lots of cool stuff, way too overpriced. I'm glad I grabbed some art in South Haven. I did see some cool colorized photos an artist made after doing some urban exploring in Detroit and other rundown cities (if you don't know what it is, Google it). I took his card and figured I'd check it out later after I settle down in SJ.

We also paid a visit to IKEA. I need to furnish my first apartment somehow, and IKEA's going to help me do it. I got a lot of ideas and also got a chance to check out some stuff I wanted to but in the Bay Area. I definitely did a major J thing too for my new place. I made a scale drawing of the rooms on graph paper and then cut scale pieces of furniture out of note cards so that I could work on arranging my room. I ended up getting a lot of good layouts though. It is a lot better than making several drawings over and over (which I did this summer in San Diego). Yea, I'm a dork, so what?

What else? I walked the dog quite a ways and then hung with Brenna and Caitlin. It's always good to see those guys. Caitlin of course filled me in with all the latest gossip on my neighbors, relationships, who's doing what. You know, the usual GP stuff.

Sunday (morning?) I'm off to SLO again. My dad comes out Tuesday and then we head to San Jose with all my junk. My place is all paid for right now. I don't have any money until my first paycheck. Then I can afford the usual, you know, cable, internet, furniture, food...all that stuff. It will be nice to support myself totally finally.

Keep in touch and visit sometime...

-StM

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Back from Boston

Another week goes by, another bunch of random adventures to recount.

In Boston news, Nikki's got a new studio, which is great. I'm glad she was able to make a decision before we all left, because that would've been absolutely horrible to deal with housing from all the way over in California. I noticed that my last post was about a week ago, so let me try and think of what else you missed out in Boston.

After the initial bunch of places (Canada, Crackhouse by the Sea, etc...) we found a few more on Monday. My Monday consisted of waking up at 4 a.m. to drive Armen to the airport for his trip back to Cali. Nikki in the meantime could have been sleeping, but instead got up to stalk and research haha. That was probably good, because it gave us a jump start on the day and all the places to see. We looked into Newton, Brookline, Watertown, Brighton, and Ashton that day, focusing on a few postings on Craigslist that Nikki responded to and some apartments I found online. A quick synopsis:

"New Mommy's House": Our first stop was a house in Newton, a safe family town just west of Boston. The house was beautiful; it reminded me of a place in GP. The lady who posted the Craigslist ad was very nice. She was a mother of three kids, ages 3, 5, and 7, and her husband was a big shot businessman who did business in New York. The place Nikki would've rented was pretty cool. It consisted of the entire third floor of the house WITH furniture. There were two bedrooms, a little sitting room, and a huge bathroom. All utilities included and she got furniture!

Well, what's the catch? No separate entrance. And I must say, Nikki calls me a J, but this lady SCARED me. First, she must have had like 4 cups of coffee right before we got there; she was WIRED. Also, everything in the house was super organized and color coded. She gets her kids up at 5 a.m. and is outta the door by 8 a.m. Yea, I don't think she would mesh with Nikki too well. Plus, she'd probably always be in her business. The downstairs and kitchen were also shared with the family, so it would literally be like having a new mommy. Nikki was kinda keen on the idea, but everyone else thought this lady might be a little controlling and that Nikki wouldn't be as independent. In the end, she sadly let the place go.

"Armenia by the Church": The place Nikki ended up getting was in a smaller town called Watertown. It's just west of Cambridge and north of Newton across the Charles River. The complex was fairly nice looking (minus the ugly blue railings on the porches). It was right next to a big park and across from a Catholic church (good for me lol). The first place we saw was a one bedroom that was big, but also really out of date. Apparently the lady living there had been there a while, and they were going to renovate it for the next person. However, Nikki and I still made an appointment Tuesday to see the only other place available in September, which was a remodeled studio. The price was right and heat, water and parking were included, which were pluses. Nikki liked it a lot. It has a great view of the city and church from the porch. The rooms are all partitioned, which is cool since you get privacy. Most of the time studios are one huge space. Nikki put in her application and offer letter (after a few million calls to Armen in the morning to fax it) and now she's all set. We even found out that there was a walkway along the Charles a block or two away. We walked over there and checked it out.

So what's with the nickname for the last place? Behind Glendale and Fresno, Watertown has the third largest Armenian population in the US with about 8% of the city's population. Armen was pretty stoked to hear that, especially when Nikki signed on there. Of course, Nikki is picking on Armen, saying that maybe she'll meet another cute Armenian guy in his twenties when she moves there (to which Armen replies, "I'll kill you."). We'll see about that. How's Michael doing over there Nikki?

We also checked out a house from Craiglist on Tuesday night that Nikki found. Turns out that the three people there are all from Nantucket and are looking for a fourth roomie. It's funny because with Nikki, they'd have three girls and a guy named Matt, just like our house on Calle Malva! Kinda strange. They were very nice, but after getting the place in Watertown, Nikki really didn't see anything that absolutely made her want to take this place. As Kristen would say, she didn't absolutely love it. Hell, I already blew our two earlier apartment appointments (not like me, but they weren't in my calendar, okay?) so that must've been a sign that Watertown was the place. I did find it hilarious that Matt basically lived in a closet haha, definitely the best bedroom arrangement I've ever seen.

Besides that, Nikki and I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday souvenir shopping and eating food that made Armen jealous. That includes Regina Pizza and Legal Seafood. My lobster was AWESOME, although I think Nikki was a little freaked out by the eyes haha. And YES Armen, I did let Nikki buy that annoying duck whistle from the Duck Boat guys (QUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!). Don't worry, I'm sure you'll figure out a way to make it 'disappear'.

Which reminds me, I had SUCH a fun time Sunday watching Armen and Nikki try to navigate to this pizza place the first time. I acted like I was sleeping and listened in. First, we drive like 15 miles to one of these random places when there are some that were much closer. Then they realize we probably should call and see how late they're open on Sunday. Oops. Well, we get to the exit, and wouldn't you know it? The GPS led us in circles. That only happened like 243872937498273984732 times during the trip. Turns out that the GPS said there was a 'Regina Pizzeria' and 'Pizzeria Regina' in two different locations off this exit! What the hell? So we gave up on that and then came trying to make a decision on a place to eat. Well, we drove around randomly looking around (Armen even spotted so geese, yelling, "Look at the f***ing geese!". I have no idea why). Finally, we ended up at Cheesecake Factory, but I must say it was quite an experience watching them try and navigate to this pizza place.

Other than that, we drove to the airport at 5 a.m. on Wednesday. Nikki had to run to her flight. I took the car back. Armen and I talked to the guys on Sunday night and got the price cut by $50. They took off 2 days and allowed us to drop is off at the airport (we picked it up somewhere else) after our first car died while driving. Then we added me Monday morning as a secondary. Well, I turn the car in, and the lady goes, "That will be $456.00, correct?" WHAT?! I was PISSED...I'm glad Nikki had me drop her off first, because this took forever. Turns out the computer double charged us for both cars plus did a bunch of other random stuff. Whatever, it got fixed, I went home, and I had no issues getting back to the D...

I'm going to break for now here and throw the rest of my update in another post. Man, I gotta make sure that I post more often, otherwise this is what happens! Sorry :(

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Granola bars, Canada, Officer Mike with a Mommy, and more!

So yea, I've been kinda slacking at this for the past few days. I've been traveling a lot from DC to Detroit to Boston and my laptop screen died :-( which is kinda putting a hold on my blog. However, I've got a moment here at the hotel, so I'll give the DL on Boston so far...

I must say that first of all, we are all still alive, which I find impressive. I was sure that between Armen, Nikki, and I that one of us would've gone nuts within the first day or so.

Back to the title of this blog, after the first two days we have amassed our own Boston vocab to describe different people, places, and things. It just helps all of us remember. Each one has a story of it's own:

"Granola Bar": Armen's short term that we use for some apartments in Malden because it sounds similar. It's got a beautiful view of the Boston skyline, but it looks like the area surrounding it might be a little more sketch. The place has a TON of stuff too (even handball courts) as well as social events and plenty of people our age. It might be worth it, and it's about as close as Canada...

"Canada": I coined this for one of the apartments in Waltham since they're called the Windsor Apartments, and Windsor is right across the border from Detroit in Canada (Of course the two Cali kids didn't get it, but it works lol). Canada is farther too, but also quieter (hah). Couldn't really tell how many young people lived there, but it was also very nice and overlooked a pond. It's still in the running with Granola Bar...

"Pville Pond": Another place in Waltham that wasn't open when we got there, but it looked really nice. It was on a pond that apparently looks like one in Pville to Nikki, so she coined the term.

"Kitty Castlewood": The last place in Waltham, also closed for today. Nikki named it based on the stripper name she made up with. According to what Nikki has heard, your stripper name is (name of childhood pet + street you grew up on). Very clever. Anyways, Nikki thought the area kinda looked like the street she grew up on.

"Crack House by the Sea": This is actually a clash of terms that describes one place that was really beautiful. It was right on a bay with a beach nearby and a harbor walk. It had several nice apartments that were reasonable with great grounds (it actually was built on the edge of a park).

However, based on some research and the word from the cops (see below), Dorchester is NOT the place to be ("You'll be shot in a month", said one officer) and this place was smack dab in the middle.

Although it doesn't say anything about crack houses, another place we saw had a review that said they literally found a crack house in the bottom floor of the apartment, so we skipped that one. Then the crack house term stuck with this one on the bay, maybe because of what the cop hinted at with low income housing in the complex. Scratch another one off the list.

"Officer Mike with a mommy": By far my favorite part of today. We were at an Au Bon Pain in Cambridge grabbing a sandwich for lunch. Armen was talking to Nikki about how we need to call some police offices to find out what crime and safety is like in the different neighborhoods. Armen then sees the Cambridge Police sitting in the same restaurant and says, "Why don't we just ask them?" Before Nikki and I can say anything, Armen starts chatting it up with the cops. There were three guys, and they all had great advice (as well as funny accents).

Turns out that Dorchester and Roxbury are to be avoided:

"Roxbury?...(laughter)"
"I wouldn't drive through there without my gun" and then another said "Hell I wouldn't drive through there WITH my gun"
"Your car will be broken into within a month...no a week"
"That damn Section 8...you'll be paying $1400 and they guy next door's paying $68 you know?"
"They have crack parties then they come over and break into your car"

They also had some great advice about good places to live. They told us most of the areas to the north were better to look into. Now we're going to focus in on that to try and find some more places. They even tried to sell us on Belmont, mainly because Officer Mike's mom has been trying to rent a room in the house with her father there for 6 months. "You'd be crazy not to take this!" I mean the area was nice and the price was good, but it might just be a backup. We might be seeing it tomorrow.

That's enough of the dictionary, what else? Oh yea, the car. After Nikki and Armen upgraded it, the thing DIED in the middle of the road (while driving) in Boston. That was fun! Luckily we pulled over and found a Hertz place to switch out the car. It's a lower grade and in worse shape, plus we could've been killed! Armen's going to give them a piece of his mind tomorrow. Hopefully we can get a discount.

Alright, enough of that. See Nikki's post on her blog for more info. I'm sure she'll cover all the funny accents, the crazy drivers, and how annoying Armen and I are. Stay tuned...

-StM

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Back from the Country, Off to the Capitol

Well, I've kinda missed a few entries over the last few days, but I've got a pretty good reason...no internet and no phone! Man, it was nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle and take a break for a little bit...

If you know me, then you're thinking, "Matt, take a break? Come on!" Okay, so maybe MY idea of taking a break is a little bit different than everyone else's.

Whenever I come home from Cali, my parents always have a "Matt list" for me to do. This time, the main item on the list was digging a drainage ditch. To be more exact, we had to dig a 100-foot ditch about a foot deep to bury a drain pipe for our sump pump. For those of you in California without basements, a sump pump is a pump in a hole in your basement that's below the basement level. Whenever water begins to rise to a certain level just below the basement, the pump turns on and pumps out the water to prevent flooding. This Christmas, a crazy thaw in the middle of winter and a broken sump flooded our cottage with a foot of water! Merry Christmas.

Anyways, skipping from the technical jazz above, we had to dig a long ditch. My dad and I spent three days digging, leveling, and filling in this hole. Honestly, as I said before, I'm cool with manual work. However, I forgot one small pest of the damp Michigan climate: mosquitoes. I forgot how I'm a magnet for those damn bugs. I sprayed myself everywhere and they still bit me a million times. Oh well, just part of a Michigan vacation I guess.

Check one item off the list. Luckily that was the only major item for the list this time around. Aside from mowing the lawn and other random yard work, the long weekend was pretty quiet.

One night we traveled down to New Buffalo over in Michiana to check out the new Four Winds Casino. I gotta say it was pretty ritzy. It was must fancier than the other Indian casinos I had seen in Jackson and Solvang. However, there was one small problem. Nobody won ANYTHING. I mean, everyone of us just had loss after loss after loss, no small wins whatsoever. Whatever, I'm probably never going back anyways.

The beach out there has also changed since I'd been in Michigan last. The beach is about half the size since the huge flood during Christmas and in spring. Lake Michigan is up a friggin foot, that's a ton! With such a rise, some places don't even have a beach anymore. It's much smaller than any California beach and a little chillier. The water was about 50, which felt pretty cold, although after your body goes numb it doesn't seem so bad. We only hung down there for an hour or so since the July 4th crowd was getting pretty big.

While out there I picked up some more art and photos for my new place in California. I figured with all the white walls in that place I should try and decorate a little. I mean, me and decorating don't usually mix, but I'm gonna give it a try. I also have vaulted ceilings, which makes for a lot of random empty space. Maybe if I stay there long enough I'll find a mobile or something to hang up there. I'm a little short on cash right now, so I think I'll just stick with the few things I got in MI for now.

Tomorrow I'm off to DC for one of two trips while I'm home. We'll see how it goes, hopefully everything goes smoothly.

After that it's Boston with Armen and Nikki. That should be an interesting time. I hope Nikki rented a car (cough cough) since we are going to be traveling all around the city trying to find her housing for the fall.

Until next time...

-StM

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The Move and the Cottage

Well, so far my vacation in Michigan has been pretty uneventful. I spent most of the day bumming around the house with not much to do, but that's cool with me. It's been a long couple of weeks Craigslisting, moving, and cleaning our house in SLO. Today was my only day in Grosse Pointe until about the 15th.

My dad and I nailed down the plan for my SJ move. (and that's not South Jersey Ashley!) My dad really loves to travel, so he decided that he would fly out to help me move from SLO. I thought I'd have someone there help me move, but then the problem is getting the person back to SLO or finding someone who only needs to go one way. Either way, I still need to drive my car, so the other person would just get stuck driving the big van. Unfortunately, tickets for a flight were $400 for my dad, which was nuts! That's twice as much as I expected, but it's the summer. My dad got a ticket through FF points instead, so we got that settled. Now the plan is to have him drive an Enterprise Truck from SJ to SLO, since they don't charge mileage. Then we'll pack my stuff, head back up to San Jose and then return the van. It's not as easy as just driving one way from SLO, but it costs about the same after researching it and my dad really likes to travel.

I also started looking at new stuff to buy for my apartment, which is exciting. I'm starting with the most important item first: my new HDTV of course! I spent a while today researching TV specs online and in stores. I've got my basic TV picked out, so I'll probably get that first thing when I get my new place, since I don't own a TV currently. Next comes all the furniture, which will come mostly from IKEA and Target. I don't want to buy too much stuff or expensive things since I MAY be moving again soon. I also have the table and (possibly) the couch from our house in SLO. Moving the couch depends on the size truck we rent (Sorry Kristen, it might not be in the cards after all). With all this stuff, I've also noticed that it's going to be hard to arrange it in my place, since there are a lot of doorwalls, windows, and a fireplace (all which are awesome by the way). I guess I'll just play it by ear and plan it out when I get there. I'm looking forward to buying new stuff and moving in; I always find a change of scenery to be a lot of fun.

Starting tomorrow, my family and I are heading to the cottage out in South Haven. It will be nice to head out to west Michigan for the 4th of July and be out in the country for a bit. Still, it sounds like I will be put to work for the few days I'm out there. My dad's having my dig a sewage drainage ditch and lay pipe...a good job for a computer engineer haha. It's okay with me; I like manualy labor jobs because I feel like I'm getting something done. It's always nice to feel useful when coming back home; my parents always have a 'Matt list' when I get back.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to go to the beach and take it easy. That is, if the weather improves. For the first time in several months, I saw rain! I must say, I miss those cool rainy days in spring and fall, not to mention snow (but that rant is best saved for another day).

I'm hoping to get some good pics out there, but I probably won't post again until I get back on the 5th or 6th. I head to Washington D.C. for a trip on the 5th and then to Boston to help Nikki with housing on the 10th. That leaves only 4 days or so after I get back to hang out in Michigan. That's fine, there's not much for me to do around here it seems. Everyone is pretty busy, either working or on vacation somewhere.

Anyways, I will do my best to put up some pics from Michigan and post another entry sometime in the next few days. We don't have internet or cell phone coverage out there so we'll see how it goes. I plan to start working on my novel also while at the cottage, so be sure to send me any stories or suggestions you have.

Time to pack for SH and then try and get some sleep (I'm still a little off b/c of timezones)...

-StM

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Home in Detroit

Today was all travel, but I'm home now. I got my hani at the Coney and chatted with the rents for a bit. Now I think I'll pass out since I've been up since 4 a.m. No word on the move out in SLO, no one is answering. I hope Nikki got moved out, Blake finished his project and Armen doesn't have anymore gray hairs. Night guys...

-StM

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SLO: Sleeping on a couch, hiking the 'P'

(If you are reading this from Facebook, you can also check this out on my blog at http://blog.mattstaniszewski.net )



Well after 4 years in this town, I must say things have truly come full circle. I started my stay in this house sleeping on the couch. Now I'm sitting on the couch once more, where I'll be sleeping before my flight tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. The house is now a shell, just as it was back in the fall of 2nd year. I mean, just look at our rooms, we're gone (sorta):

Me














Kristen














Marlize














Nikki












I mean, Nikki's working on it, although I'm sure she'll hold true to the lease and definitely be here until 11:59:59 on June 30th. It's amazing to think of all the history we have with this house (just look back at my list a few posts back). It was a good house and I'll miss it...

The same thing is true of my hike up the 'P' hill today. I drove to campus thinking I'd feed a meter and quickly hike up and down this hill to feel accomplished. After all, I said I wanted to hike all my usual trails, and this was the last one on my list. The hike, like the couch, invoked another string of memories and stories from my time here in SLO.

I'm glad to see my 'StM' was still carved in the boards next to the 'P', although Khanh's 'Genghis' is now pretty faded. I continued up past the 'P' to the top, a mere walk now to me compared to the tough haul it used to be for me freshman year.

After getting to the top, I searched out another familiar sight: the folding chair. It's always been tradition for there to be at least one folding chair stamped with "Cal Poly Housing Department" up there. This time there was not one, but a whole family of seven chairs up there. I'm glad to see the viewing section for SLO is growing. The sight from the top of that hill is still just as great as when I first hiked up the 'P' hill almost four years ago.

The first time I hiked the 'P', Khanh and I just decided to try our hands at hiking up there. Hell, I still have the pictures from then, man do we look like little freshmen! (Too bad my old photos are on a hard drive that's packed somewhere, maybe I can put them up later) I stood on the edge of the rock face overlooking Cerro Vista, although I passed on doing the Titanic pose off of it like Khanh and I did years back. Same thing goes for the fake "Help! I'm falling!" poses. It took a while to master those...

On another occasion, Khanh and I went up the steep way instead of following the trail. One the way down, Khanh kinda slipped and fell on a yucca plant. For those unfamiliar with a yucca plant, it looks like an aloe plant, just much larger and with little spines on the edges ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca ). The spines on those things will draw blood even if you're wearing jeans. MAN, I never heard Khanh swear so much in my life! Those things have gotten me from time to time also. No wonder then call the back of the 'P' hill Yucca Ridge; the entire hillside is an old botanical garden for yucca plants.

The 'P' is also where Rob and I met Kristen and Marlize for the first time. Rob and I were really into exploring everything on and around campus, especially at night. One Friday night, we decided to hike the 'P'. Using Rob's flashlight, we made our way up the trail. We stopped on the service road to check out all the little lights up at the 'P' from other people up there already. One seemed to be blinking at us. Taking it as a signal, Rob flashed his light on and off several times at the light. We continued on our way up there and took a seat on one of the steps next to the 'P'. While sitting there, we overheard two girls behind us talking about who the hell just blinded them with a flashlight. We felt pretty stupid, so we introduced ourselves as the jerks who did it. They turned out to be pretty cool with it. We went on to hike up to the top of the hill that night, and then hike Bishop's Peak and have dinner later that weekend.

Now, I know I've left out all my encounters with animals on the 'P' hill over the past few years. That includes the horses that graze up there. On more than one occasion, I've been chased by the horse, and I don't know why. I steer clear of them and they still find me. On the other side of the hill, I had a bad experience with a stampede of hungry cows. Apprently, opening the gate signaled food to them, so I swung it shut as fast as I could when they came running over. Finally, I had a flock of wild turkeys pursue me up Yucca Ridge. I guess animals must naturally want to chase me...

Finally, I will never forget our night hike to the 'P' second year. It was very foggy, but we climbed above the fog and stopped at the 'P' to check it out. All around, you felt like you were flying above the clouds. All you could see was the clouds below lit by the moon and stars above. I will never forget that sight...

With that, I bid my final goodbye to SLO. Of course I'll be back in July, and back again either as a recruiter at a job fair or as a grad student, who knows. Another chapter of my life has ended, but only to begin a new and exciting period full of unknowns, challanges, and plenty to do. Sounds good to me!

Later SLO and I'll see you Detroit tomorrow afternoon...

-StM

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Last Bit of Moving

(If you are reading this from Facebook, you can also check this out on my blog at http://blog.mattstaniszewski.net)


Well, over the past few days, I've finally managed to completely move out of our house here in SLO. It's really strange going back and looking around, I never remember it being that empty.

I spent the last 3-4 days taking trips to the dump, carrying boxes and furniture out of houses, up and down stairs, and into apartments. Nikki's still got a little work to do on her room, but I think we're all set for the handoff on Wednesday. Our landlord Menzo came up to check out the place. He didn't seem to find anything wrong so hopefully (fingers crossed) we'll get our deposits back! I mean, I have repaired so many things in that house, they probably outweight any damage we did, if any.

Thank god Kristen came back down to help out at the house. It takes two J's (as Nikki would put it) to really get things done. The last 4 days have been a whirlwind of moving, but it looks good. I'm especially thankful for her help moving my bed and kitchen table, which I was sure was gonna need a U-Haul. We got a hell of a lot accomplished.

Craiglisting is finally over with. I can't believe how picky people get about free stuff. "What color is it?...Can you hold it for two days?...Umm, is it this specific type of material?..." COME ON, IT'S FREE! Just come and take it and don't complain! I STILL cannot get rid of the red/pink/whateverthehellcoloritis couch. I stripped off the fabric and cut the price multiple times, but no dice. Everyone keeps telling me after a few calls or emails that it's too long, EVEN THOUGH that's in the description! Well, Kristen thinks it's destined to become mine. I don't know about that, but apparently I'm supposed to take it. (Just like I've never had Nutella and now I'm destined to get some as a house warming gift :-P) It doesn't fit in, but FINE I guess I can take it and slip cover the damn thing lol. We'll see, I'll shove it in the garade and consider it.

But, who says there wasn't fun along the way? I've gotten a chance to go on all my SLO hikes over the past week (minus the P, which I'm hoping to do tomorrow) and go on a bike ride or two.

Kristen and I had a particularly interesting experience while moving stuff to Rob's old place. A guy was dancing behind a large straw beach umbrella on the a street corner when we drove back towards Santa Rosa. I'm thinking, "Okay, this guy is probably nude" and wouldn't you know it? Down goes the umbrella and that was definitely all him there, totally naked. It was pretty hilarious. I was pretty impressed by how into it he was. I mean, his dancing was really good. As soon as we drove by, a school bus came off the freeway behind us. We slowed down to watch; thankfully he covered up with the umbrella and just continued his little dance for the bus.

Laying out and swimming over at Armen's place was also awesome. Thanks man for letting us stop by these last few days, hopefully I'll look a little less white before I head to Michigan.

Man this entry was long; I'll try and write more frequently to keep them shorter. (Some pics would be nice too!)

One more night in the house tomorrow then off to the 313 to see my homies in DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-troit. Later!

-StM

P.S. If you don't know what I mean when I say 'J' type, check out the personality test, Nikki would LOVE to know what type you are (just don't use it as a mental crutch lol). Just Google 'personality test' and click on the first result. For the record, I'm an INTJ just to get it out there.

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