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!
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.
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.
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.
hope i win
Ryan - start geocaching.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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