Comet Catch-up: Hulaween 2021

Posted by: Ryan 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Music Travel

A few weeks after our wedding, Jessica and I went on our Honeymoon to the Hulaween music festival in Live Oak, Florida.  This is the same music festival that we got engaged at in 2018. This was actually our third time going to Hulaween, and this was our first music festival since 2019.

This music festival was unbelievable. As-in, I legitimately couldn’t believe that it was happening. We left our apartment wearing masks (as was required by our property managers), flew in an airplane wearing masks, then spent four days maskless partying with tens of thousands of sweaty Floridians. It was a bizarre departure from the “new normal” that we had been living in.  In hindsight, neither of us got sick, so I guess we weren’t being too careless or anything.

Below is a list of highlights and other noteworthy memories from Hulaween 2021:

Looking forward to going back in 2022!

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Wedding Bandana

Posted by: Ryan 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Projects

I don’t remember when or how we decided to make custom-designed bandanas for our wedding favors. But, the decision felt right to us because it allowed us to share a little bit about ourselves and push forward the themes/aesthetics of the wedding, all while using a medium that is near and dear to our hearts (if you didn’t know, we collect bandanas for our dog, Violet).

In the beginning, I photographed all of my favorite bandanas from Violet’s collection, then studied them to figure out what design aspects I liked and disliked.  I quickly learned that I preferred traditional bandana designs, which tend to have concentric borders and intricate floral designs.  Execution-wise, I decided to draw the bandana at 1:1 scale with ink on thick card stock.  This plan minimized the need for post-production in photoshop.

The design consisted of the following:

After completing all drawings, I made high-quality scans, imported them into photoshop, made use of some copy-and-paste (leveraging symmetry), then did a few touch-ups.

Then, I went to the screen printers! Screen printing manufacturers tend to be hard to work with.  But, for this specific project, the coordination was a breeze and the prints looked great on the first try.

The tie dye process was a whole other operation. Jessica and I started doing test runs before the final bandanas even arrived.  We tested a wide range of color combinations and ratios, measuring and documenting along the way.  Getting the dye colors right was a lot harder than we initially thought it would be. We wanted to have rust and gold colors (to match our wedding theme colors) - but we found that those colors would very easily look like blood and pee.  After a lot of iterations, we decided to go with a light blue and a light peach color. We kept the colors light because we wanted the art to stay visible.

When it was time to do full scale production, we the process all worked out.  We only had our little apartment to work in, so we built many small workstations in Tupperware containers. That allowed us to dye/rinse/dry all of the bandanas in one big batch.

We were really happy and proud of these wedding favors.  We put a lot of time and energy into them, but it was a fun project for us. We enjoyed being able to share the little bits and pieces of our lives depicted on these bandanas with our guests.


Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Wedding Specification

Posted by: Ryan 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Weddings are complicated, and planning them is hard to do.

This is something Jessica and I learned when we planned our first wedding, which was supposed to be in June 2020.  The COVID pandemic canceled that plan, so we ended up planning an entirely different wedding for October 2021.  Both of these weddings required a lot of hands-on planning because they were at restaurants (which don’t really have “canned” wedding execution plans like other more well-established venues).

In the engineering world, when you’re coordinating a large project where many people must collaborate to produce a single unified outcome, versioned documents and drawings are used to keep everyone aligned.  For example, to make a building, you need construction drawings and construction specifications.  For our wedding in 2022, we chose to adopt this idea and apply it to our wedding.

We ended up making a 27-page Wedding Specification, which was shared in-full with all people with a role in the wedding.  It had sections with contact info, timelines, set-up, tear-down, music, photography, and everything in between. The document covered the entire weekend, including Friday and Sunday activities.  We had a few separate documents that were shared with a more exclusive group of people; for example, we only shared the script for our ceremony with people directly involved in the ceremony so it could still feel special to others.

We got a lot of positive feedback on the spec, especially from our vendors who seem to constantly be hungry for more information from their clients.  They liked being able to see the big picture.  And our spec seemed to have done a good job at providing that information because Jessica and I were only contacted only once during the wedding set-up with a question (which honestly was already answered in the spec).

We’ll admit that writing the document in construction specification format was tongue-in-cheek, but we still recommend anyone planning a wedding makes a similar document!  It saved us time in the long run, and it contributed to a well-executed wedding. It definitely reduced our stress knowing that all of our wedding contributors would be able to collaborate without us, and the spec is what allowed that to happen.

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Our Wedding

Posted by: Ryan 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

On October 9, 2021, I married my best friend and long-time partner Jessica. It was a magical day that I will never forget.

We started our wedding day on the right foot with a calming walk around the Weston Reservoir with our dog Violet. Then, Jessica and I split up to get dressed and ready. We reconvened at the Watch Factory for our "first look" later in the day. Only when driving to the first look did the gravity of the day hit me - I was sitting at a traffic light and I foolishly chose to listen to the song that Jessica would walk down the aisle to later in the day.

Our first look went great. That's when our Photographer, Rory McCann, started to work her magic. We got all sorts of great pictures near the Charles River. Afterwards, we headed over to our wedding venue, Branch Line in Watertown.

Our family and friends did an excellent job setting the venue up. Everything was exactly as we had imagined. We were lucky to have excellent weather. The venue was buzzing with nervous and excited energy. Guests were encouraged to get drinks at the bar to take with them to their seats for the ceremony.

I'll forever cherish our wedding ceremony. Our officiant was a close family friend, Naomi. She was very professional, yet she still gave the ceremony a personal touch. Jessica and I wrote our own vows. I bared my soul when reading my vows and it was emotional and challenging. Our close friends Casey and Pat read a passage that resonated with Jessica and me; it was all about embracing the strong aspects of a relationship, even during hard times.

Cocktail hour followed the ceremony, and the reception followed the cocktail hour. Food was amazing! We were graced with touching (and comedic) toasts from my sister, Casey, and her husband, Mike, who were the Maid of Honor and the Best Man. A second set of amazing toasts were given by our close friends Abby and her wife Amanda. Speaking of Abby, she was our DJ for the evening, which was really great because she also DJs professionally. She did an outstanding job incorporating our esoteric music tastes into the atmosphere at the venue. She also delivered a bumping dancefloor for us to all enjoy.

A highlight of the day were our guests. We kept the wedding small and intimate; around 50 people all together. We are fortunate to have such wonderful friends and family in our lives. We gave our guests halloween pins and trinkets on the favors table along with custom bandanas that I designed and Jessica tie dyed. We wouldn't say our wedding was halloween-themed, but it certainly had a halloween undertone - which was a nod to our engagement in 2018.

Following the wedding, we went into Boston with our close friends to a dance music show (Gorgon City). What an amazing way to close out a wedding night!

It was a delight to see our wedding day unfold exactly as planned. Branch Line impressed us with professional, high-quality service. Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to our special day.

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

[Photography credit: Rory McCann - An absolutely excellent wedding photographer!] 

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Thanksgiving 2020

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 8 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

I took an unplanned year-long hiatus from blogging - What up with that?

Well, I don't know.  One of my favorite aspects of the blog is that it brings structure and meaning to my personal projects/hobbies - and my hobbies have been on the back-burner for the last 12 months.  My professional workload has been high; plus, Jess and I have been on a board game kick recently - perhaps some board game blog posts are in the future.

Let's face it - 2020 has been unusual.  Jessica and I are fortunate because we both kept our jobs.  Plus, for the first time ever, our rent didn't increase.  Many people said that 2020 was a year to reinvest in yourself.  For me, that definitely happened, and it was professional growth.

I hope I get back into the swing of regular blog posts.  But...I'm not going to commit to that.  If 2020 taught me anything, it's that I should just play the hand I'm dealt - and that I don't have any idea what cards are even in the deck!  We've drafted some loose plans for the next few years; the current world requires us to plan with a lot of flexibility.  We are excited to put those plans into action.  A wedding is certainly a part of those plans.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

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Thoughts on a Wedding that Didn't Happen

Posted by: Jessica 2 years ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

June 20th, 2020 was supposed to be our wedding day. The date itself was special to us. It was our 10 year anniversary of dating, the 6/20/20 had a good ring to it, and it was just a few days prior to one of our favorite events of the year, the Electric Forest Music Festival which was slated to be our honeymoon. The date worked too for all of our vendors: the ceremony location, the restaurant for the reception, the photographer, the bakery, nearly everything had been locked in. We had started to receive decorations for the tables; we had decided on a drinks menu that had specialty cocktails representing our life together, and some of our favorite beers were being special ordered for our big day. We received a package of 70 final invitations that we spent hours deciding on, working with a graphic designer to coordinate with our save the dates perfectly, hand designed stamps, and pre-labeled envelopes for our loved ones. I got my wedding dress too.

One month later, it’s as if those plans evaporated, sucked into the vortex of 2020. By the beginning of April it was clear that a social gathering was not going to happen in June, especially not at a restaurant, so we awkwardly sent out wedding cancellation cards. Yes, they coordinated too. And to honor what would have been our wedding day, Ryan and I escaped into the woods and camped for a couple of days with our dog, Violet. Our friends spent some time with us on Zoom that night, celebrating with tiki drinks and glow sticks and acknowledging what we had lost. My mom sent me a really sweet note reminding me that someday we will be married and it will be special when that day comes. Ryan and I have since spent a lot of time talking about it too, what we want, what we don’t want, when will it be safe, and for how many. It’s been stressful and sad and overwhelming and all of the things that our wedding was not supposed to be.

I’m not sure if a wedding will ever happen for us, or at least one at the scale that we had intended. My wedding dress may never see the light of day and might be hanging in it’s garment bag forever; our decorations might get donated and our invitations might become kindling for our next camp fire. But then there’s also the important part: I haven’t been able to marry the love of my life. More than anything, that hurts the most. Ryan is supposed to be my husband by now. We were supposed to say vows, and kiss, and have wedding bands representing our commitment to each other. We’ve said so many times that we’ve been together for so long that it doesn’t really matter, but truthfully it does. It’s painful. But, when I’m not upset thinking about all of the details, personal touches, and time spent that will never be seen I remember that I’m also really thankful. I’m thankful for our apartment, and our jobs, and our health, and the health of our loved ones, and for Violet. And I’m also really thankful for Ryan.

Someday I will marry him and promise to be by his side through hikes, and concerts, and cooking dinner, and mai tais, and even pandemics. While quarantine changed a lot about our lives and our wedding plans, it did not change that one bit.

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Two summer months

Posted by: Ryan 2 years, 11 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Is this thing still on?

I lived two months of life since my last post, and it’s been jam packed with family, fun, work, travel, music, and everything in between.  If there were a highlight reel, and that highlight reel was transcribed into bullets, it might look like this:

...and that is the full run-down of our last couple months.  While that list might sound like a lot, what doesn’t come through is how busy we’ve both been with work. We are trying to push through and get back to more balanced schedule soon.

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The Third Annual Beer Challenge

Posted by: Ryan 3 years, 7 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Food & Drink

On Christmas Eve, my family held the 3rd annual beer challenge.  This is a competition where we each bring a six pack (or similar) of beers and then hold a blind taste test and ultimately select the best overall beer.  The winner is awarded a sampler pack of all the contending beers.

On this third year, there were several first occurrences:

Competition aside, this is always a fun event.  It adds some variety to Christmas time.  And, it's a good reason to gather in Barone's (the downstairs bar) and share beers together.

I'm looking forward to next year.  We've already discussed some potential rule changes, such as banning IPAs from the competition and displaying the cans for each beer during the taste tests.

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Recent submission to juried exhibit

Posted by: stevenmones 3 years, 9 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

hope i win


Ryan - start geocaching.


uncle steve

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Hulaween 2018, and our engagement!

Posted by: Ryan 3 years, 9 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Music

Jess and I got engaged! To be more specific, we got engaged while at the Hulaween music festival in northern Florida. We had a great time.

See my photo album here.

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