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The Third Annual Beer Challenge

Posted by: Ryan 4 months, 3 weeks 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 6 months, 2 weeks 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 6 months, 3 weeks 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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A brief rant on Weston and Cat Rock Park

Posted by: Ryan 7 months, 1 week ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

This morning Jess and I tried to take Violet for a walk at Cat Rock Park, a wooded park in Weston that happens to allow off-leash dogs.  On weekends, there can sometimes be a line of cars waiting for a parking spot at Cat Rock, but it’s never longer than a 10 minute wait - and it’s always worth it for a nice time at the park.

When we arrived, we saw a giant new sign saying that the parking lot is now for Weston residents only.  We were forced to take this new rule seriously, because we always see Weston Police doing patrols of this lot.

Shame on Weston! They are trying to keep Waltham residents out of the park to reduce the wait time for themselves. But does this mean Weston residents are not using Waltham parks, adding congestion to Waltham streets, parking in its public lots to visit its downtown, or filling open jobs in Waltham? Of coarse not. It seems like Weston wants to reap the benefits of its more-developed neighboring towns and cities, but doesn’t want to share its parks.

I get it. Making a rule is a quick way to fix a problem - but with a little bit of thought, Weston might be able to solve the parking issue, bring money into their dinky little town, and not upset their neighbors in Waltham. For example, how about putting in parking meters, then use the resulting funds to expand the parking lot?

Anyways, we ended up going to Prospect Hill Park in Waltham instead - which is open for anyone to visit, regardless of what town you live in.

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Thinking about new glasses...

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

I received a home try-on kit from Warby Parker.  It contains five different eyeglass frames for me to try. I’ll need to send them back in a few days.  What a neat idea.

I’m still undecided on which pair I want.  I actually don’t even know if I want new glasses at all!  I’ve just noticed that my current pair is getting a little scratched up and out-of-shape lately.

The two I’m showing here are the more adventurous styles of the five.  The others are similar to my current glasses.

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Walking to Boston

Posted by: Ryan 8 months, 2 weeks ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

At 11 AM on Saturday morning, Jess, Violet, and I left our apartment in Waltham and embarked on a long walk all the way to Boston.  We followed the Charles River Bike Path along the way. The total length of that path is about 12 miles.  We bailed a little early when we got to the Back Bay (the official endpoint is at the Museum of Science).  It took us about 5.5 hours, including a coffee break and several Violet-related pit stops.

I was impressed by how nice the path was, particularly in Waltham and some of Watertown. There were many areas completely isolated from roadways, which made it feel like we were hiking in the woods.  Despite walking through familiar areas, we were repeatedly surprised by interesting things hiding around each corner.  We saw footbridges, dams, boat houses, football fields, an amphitheater, and many scenic areas.  We saw bizarre things: an eastern-European chess gathering in a cozy corner of the woods near the river, a drum circle near a boathouse in Allston, an outdoor public gym area, a pop-up beer garden, and a non-zero number of potentially crazy people wandering in the woods.

After getting to the back bay, we left the trail and walked to a bbq restaurant in Fenway.  We took the subway (plus a taxi) to get back home. Violet had no trouble keeping up all day, but she was understandably exhausted afterward.  Our legs were tired that night, but not too bad!  I think we’d like to do the trail again someday. 

Edit (9/11/2018): I mapped out the trail using an online tool and learned that it is indeed around 12 miles long.  The post originally said it was closer to 20.  This has been revised.

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Back from an unplanned hiatus

Posted by: Ryan 1 year ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Food & Drink

It seems that I took an unintentional hiatus from my own blog. I haven’t posted in about 3 weeks, and that makes me sad.

I’ve actually written a few posts over the past few weeks, but I was ultimately not very happy with how they turned out - so I didn’t publish them.  I plan to rewrite one of those and publish it soon; it’s music related.

Since I haven’t posted in awhile, here is a catch-up post about some recent happenings:

Government Emails

I am still getting the spam, but far less than I was receiving originally.  Although you can sign someone up for a gazillion email newsletters in 30 seconds, they only let you unsubscribe from them in little batches.  The state department never responded to my help request.

Cryptocurrency

For the past 5 months, my computer has been mining cryptocurrency whenever I’m not using it.  Just last week, the amount of currency it has mined ticked over 1/2 of an Ethereum (which is presently about $300).

Jess’s 30th Birthday

On the weekend of April 13, we traveled to NYC with a group of our friends to celebrate Jess’s 30th. It was a fast paced weekend, because we wanted to pack a lot into a two-night visit. Jess and I were humbled by all of our friends who made the long trip into the city to join us.  There were many highlights, but one thing that stood out in my memory was a Korean fried chicken joint named BarKogi.

My Parents’ 40th Anniversary

On April 21, my sister and I organized a surprise party for my parents’ 40th anniversary. Honestly, Casey took the lead on orchestrating this.  It was a success, and it seemed like everyone had a good time.

Hojoko

This past weekend, we mostly had to hunker-down so Jess could focus on her final paper which is due on Thursday.  We had plans to go to a Red Sox game on Saturday evening, but that plan fell through - we still had our friend Casey lined up to watch Violet, so we used that time to get a few drinks at a place called Hojoko.  We both recommend Hojoko to anyone  craving a cocktail or Japanese food in Fenway/Boston. 

Machine Learning

With the help of the tool I developed, I was able to classify several thousand images over the course of a few nights. I recently fed those images back through the neural network to retrain it. But, I haven’t tested the newly trained neural network out yet.  It should be much smarter, but I won’t know until I give it a practical test.  

Waltham

According to the Waltham subreddit (yes, that exists), someone spotted arcade cabinets being hauled into a closed storefront on Moody St.  It turns out, a store known as Game Underground is opening on Moody St. later this month. They have (or had) an arcade in Natick where they also sold pre-owned video games and hosted video game tournaments.  I am hoping they make this place an arcade/bar hybrid, which would work well on Moody St.

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Lying

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 2 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Fluff

It’s no lie that my post content has taken a dive over the past few weeks.  I hope to get back on the ball soon, but I still have a back-log of miscellaneous “life” tasks to do, and most of them won’t make compelling blog content.  In addition, I’ve been doing a little bit more ‘consuming’ of content lately (i.e., watching Netflix, reading comics, playing games).  This is fun to do, but I find it exercises the brain a little less than actually creating something.

Speaking of consuming content, I recently listened to an audiobook named “Lying” by Sam Harris. This is a very short nonfiction book (the audiobook is 75 minutes long) in which the author argues that you should never lie.  This includes white lies and those tiny lies you tell when someone asks you “how are you” and you say “good.”  Of coarse, the book covers lies of all sorts, and concludes that in every case, telling the truth (and using some tact while doing so) is always superior - with only a few exceptions (such as doctors and lawyers who are bound to protect their clients confidential information).

After reading this book, I naturally considered if I should follow a strict ‘no lies’ philosophy in life.  The book piqued my interest because I feel that I already live a very truthful lifestyle.  This is mainly because my mind just isn’t very quick in complex social situations, and adding lies to the mix causes the complexity to compound.  I prefer to operate under the solitary thread of truth. Even the truth can get hard to sort out from time to time!

After hearing the arguments in Sam Harris’s book, I’m going to make a conscious effort to live a life of complete truth. By this I mean I want to tell less ‘white lies’ and less of those tiny lies. I’m not making an oath of zero lies or anything - merely just trying something that could potentially have a positive impact on me and those around me.

[Cartoon image is from bigthink.com]

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Impostor Syndrome

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 2 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Tomorrow will be my first day at a new job.  I'm very excited to start something new.  Yet, I still have a little anxiety about my abilities.  Will I be able to cut it?!  Have I just fooled everyone into believing I'm qualified?!  I've recently learned that these feelings are described as "impostor syndrome."  You can read about it on this Wikipedia page.  It's an eerie thing to feel, but I'm used to it because I felt it for the entirety of my five years at my last job.  I felt like I was hired through some sort of clerical error, and that I didn't belong alongside the MIT and Berkeley grads.  It's important to power through those thoughts.

Years ago, when I played ultimate frisbee, I had a coach tell us to be "good nervous" before a big game.  He said you don't want to be "bad nervous" - which is really just being a complete wreck.  He said you also don't want to be completely confident; because that's when you let your guard down.  These rather simple words of wisdom have helped me embrace a little bit of anxiety before big presentations and - well - first days at jobs.

[Comic is from chainsawsuit.com]

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Moving

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 3 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Lots of things are in flux right now. Aside from me switching to a new job, we’re also moving to a cheaper apartment where we can hopefully start saving money.
Change is stressful and scary, but sometimes you just need to go for it. Otherwise you run the risk of wondering what could have been. Nonetheless, it’s hard to step away from a good thing.
Anyways, this is a picture of Violet at the new apartment with our possessions only partially moved-in. Violet has mixed feelings about all of this moving - she doesn’t like it when we move around big furniture, but she seems to like running around in the half-empty spaces.

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