Monday, July 21, 2008

Dunna Nunna Batman

Last night a couple friends and I hit up the Towson Commons and saw the Dark Knight. I have to say, the movie was amazing, or as one friend said over and over, "Unbelievable". I have a soft spot in my heart for the caped crusader, I am a Batman fan, as he is by far my favorite superhero. I really like the classic movie and the first two - three in the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney series. When Christopher Nolan took over the reigns in Batman Begins I was worried that he would not live up to the history of the content. I was not sure he would do it justice. I was happily proven wrong. When the Dark Knight was announced I got all gitty like a school girl.

Nolan has darkened the role much like the first couple movies of the run in the late 90's. More than that he has allowed the stories to play out as they should. He has made them real enough, while still staying true to the comic book origins. Nolan respects the source material, which is something that the past run did not do so well towards the end.

Specifically The Dark Knight seems like the perfect second act to the introduction we are given in Batman Begins. We are introduced to two classic villains, Two Face and The joker. I must say that I thought Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker in the original Batman was tremendous. Having said that Heath Ledger's portrayal of the cunning and conniving Joker was absolutely amazing. He captured the Jokers own insanity and brilliance on the screen. It was quite clear why people are discussing Oscar nominations for Ledger. I would also venture to say that this role, which Ledger clearly engrossed himself in, could be the cause for his untimely death. It is an absolute shame. The lengths he went to to in order to become the Joker must have had effects on him, even though it is just acting.

Walking into the theater I had try to lower my expectations for this film. I thought that nothing this summer could beat Iron Man for the top guy movie. I was wrong. That is not to say that Batman is a perfect film, cause there are some issues. My two biggest gripes is that the setting feels very much like Chicago and This thing that Christian Bale does with his voice when he dawns the suit. The Chicago thing gets me. I mean it is so clearly Chicago which is just not right for Gotham. It should be New York, or some unnamed skyline, but it is very clearly Chicago. My second grip is that Bale, how plays an excellent Bruce Wayne, does this thing with his voice when he dawns the cape and cowl. It becomes very low and very grumbled. I just don't think it is needed for the character and it can sometimes make the dialogue difficult to understand.

This is the bottom line. You should see this movie. it is very very very good. Take the time and see it. Oh, and if you are near a cinematic IMAX Theater, see it there. I hear it is amazing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One of the Best Causes Ever

Today is the day off in the world of sports. There are only two days in the year where there are no major professional sports games scheduled. The day before and the day after the Baseball All Star game. On the day before there are lots of events at the All Star game, including the Home Run Derby, which means today, the day after the All Star game is really a day off. It is a day that ESPN, the leader of all things sports, has made incredibly special.

On this day each year ESPN runs a charity marathon to raise money for the V Foundation. Jim Valvano, a college basketball coach, passed away after a fight with cancer in 1993. Before he did he made what some consider one of the greatest acceptance speeches of all time. Jimmy V was receiving the Aurthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian award, the first time that this award was given. Here is a video of this amazing speech (sorry for the quality, I can't get to YouTube or MySpace)

Jim Valvano Acceptance Speech

On this day each year ESPN sets aside time to raise money for cancer research, and unlike many charities, every dollar raised goes directly to research.

I personally have been touched by cancer, as my grandmother passed away from lung cancer and my father is currently battling bladder cancer. It is a disease that will afflict one in four people. 1 in 4. It is a constant in our lives at this point. I commend ESPN on taking the time to bring forward the need to continue to give to this cause and this foundation in particular.

I cannot afford to bid on one of the very cool experiences that they have up for auction, but I can give a little. I am giving my $20 to the V Foundation and hopeful that I do not have to give it next year. Within my lifetime someone is going to hear from there doctor that they have cancer, and then they will get a prescription that will eradicate the disease in their body. Until that day I will give what I can, because every little bit helps.

So here is to hope, and a day off from sports. Here is to research and the power of many small gifts. Here is to the end of suffering of the people with cancer and the families who help them fight.

"Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up"
Jim "Jimmy V" Valvano
1946 - 1993

Monday, July 14, 2008

Running Update

Two weeks ago I posted about my running escapades. Things have been going very well with my relationship with the road. As you may remember from the last post. I was slowly improving the distance I was running. Each day going a little bit longer in the areas that I was running, building up to running around the entire block. I have already discussed the major undulations of the block, so today is just an update on Distance, and what an update it is. To recap, this is an image of the block that i am running, the areas in Blue are running sections and the areas in Red are walking sections.

I was doing pretty well at this point, About 50% running an 50% walking. The red section on the top I consider a warm up area, and the second is up a very steep hill. Well, I have been doing pretty well with this. Slowly, I was increasing the distance I was running, adding more distance to the end of the first running section, starting the second running section earlier and trying to go farther at the end of the second section. On Saturday I went for the gusto. I didn't get a chance to run until around noon. It was also pretty hot out at that point, but I was doing it. but the time I came to where I would have normally done a little cool down walk at the end of the second blue section I decided I was going to go for it. I was going to finish out the run all the way back to my place... and I did. This morning I did the run again and was able to make the distance. So here is my current running map.
That is pretty cool, I am about 75% to my current goal of making it all the way around. from there I think I will begin the process of adding some of the side streets into the track. I figure if I incorporate the three main side streets I will be pushing the three mile make. Once I make it around the big circle i will hop in the car and measure the side streets too.
I have to admit I am a little bit amazed that I have stuck to this little workout plan. I still feel better, though I am not seeing any visible benefits. I am sleeping better as well, except for a couple days I have been asleep before midnight, which is quite an accomplishment.
Also I am going to be in the market for some new running shoes. Charm City Run came to work about a week ago and talked about the process they use to fit people for new running shoes. I am going to head there soon, in the next couple of weeks. It was nice that they gave me 15% off in the store.
Here's to New Shoes (I know you like that CAG)

Be Cool, Eat a Rita's... In North Carolina

Let me first just start by saying that iPhone weekend was exciting and long, but alot of fun. I cannot wait to get my own phone (Labor Dayish).

Mom and I were chatting this morning and were talking about the weekend this morning. My Cousin, Eric, Play lacrosse for Triangle Select Lacrosse in North Carolina and this weekend he played in the Tri State Tournament this past weekend. The family was up in Princeton, New Jersey. While I heard that Eric's team didn't play to well, I am still pulling for him to get a scholarship to UMBC. Fingers Crossed. Anyway, while there my Aunt told my mother that she purchased the rights to open up two Rita's Water Ice Franchises in North Carolina. This is very exciting news for many reasons.

First and foremost, as a kid who grew up in Philly, Rita's is the best of all summer treats. It is the best. As an expanding company, it is also great to see my Aunt making moves to continue to prosper on her hard work. Actually, this could be great for my whole family. My Aunt and Uncle want my Step-Father to move down to the NC and manage one or both of the stores. It would be very cool, but it does give me some apprehension, since my mom and step-father would be moving. I still have very strong ties to the Philly area. While I love in Baltimore, my heart is always in Philly and I will always be a Philadelphian.

But seriously, how cool would it be to have some Rita's right now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An Interesting Time

There are times in life when things go a direction that you were never really prepared for and are not sure how to handle. I recently went through one of those times. I have been a contractor with my current company for a little over a year. In that time I have been working for a single financial company. I have tried to do side projects and improve my skills as best I can, but for the most part I have been doing the work as if I was solely employed by said financial firm. I like what I have been ding and feel like I have done my work pretty well.

Then the winds of change have began to blow. The market took a little bit of a down turn, the price of oil began to skyrocket and suddenly there were less and less of my co-workers around me. Those of us with the badges that designated that we worked for other companies slowly began to reduce in number. There were lunches to say goodbye to people who generally came into our group after I got here. It was a little strange. I got scared.

With everyone seemingly losing their jobs around me I did what I thought I had to do. i posted my resume on I did not what to do a full out search, cause my contracting company has a pretty good track record of moving people from on engagement to another, and I have really enjoyed working for them. There have been a couple things that have irked me over the past year and a third, but overall things have been really good. Yet, I thought it was my personal due diligence to take a look at what else was out there. I did my research using and (this site is pretty cool). I decided that it was going to take a 10% raise to get me out of my current position.

I started to receive calls from IT recruiters. I have to admit that some of these guys don't even seem to look at a resume before they try to contact you. I would get a call or two a day. Some people looking at the systems I have used, others looking at my experience. Some jobs sounded great, others not so much. I even got contacted by the other major consulting firm at my current engagement, the one who was laying off people as they were rolling off of the team. It was a little weird. There were a couple that sounded interesting. An investment firm in King of Prussia, the company that owns Victoria Secret and a local insurance firm. I started some interviews and clearly was impressing I guess. Most were pretty standard. There was one that had me complete an Excel proficiency test, which I thought was ridiculous, but whatever... if that is the first impression that they wanted to give so be it.

I went through a couple rounds with the insurance firm and they made me an offer that was almost 10% more, which I thought was okay. If not for their lousy education benefits I may have jumped at it right then. They were looking for an answer the next morning. Instead of being pressured into answering right then I went over and spoke with my VP. I let him know that I received an offer and we chatted for a bit. He asked me to give him until noon the next day to see if they could run some numbers. It was refreshing to not be told just to leave the company. I was a little worried about that. So I left the office and felt pretty good about things. I was hopeful that my current company would come close to the offer that I was being offered by the insurance firm, cause while the instability of consulting is something that I don't want in my life forever, for now it is just fine.

So I went home and tried to take my mind off of it. I didn't want to think about it. It was out of my hands at that point. You can't sweat the things you have no control over.

The next day I came into work and got down to business. I actually didn't check my company mail for a little bit. I was to busy with setting up my day and getting ready for the work that I would do that day. It was about 9:30 when i checked, not really expecting anything, but there it was. A message from my VP asking me to give him a call. I took a deep breath and dialed the phone. It was one of the shortest conversations I have ever had.


So I am a pretty happy guy. An 11.25% raise and I get to keep my education benefits which are really going to pay out beginning next year. Oh, and I took my resume off monster. Those calls can be very distracting.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I've Turned the Corner... No Really

So for the past three weeks or so I have been getting up every morning and tried to "Run" around my block. Now you may be asking why I have placed the word "Run" in quotes. There is a simple reason for this. It has been many many years since I have actually "Run". I would call what I am doing currently as accelerated walking... sort of.

Let me start by explaining my block. I live in a development that is built on a hill. A very large hill. Here is the best way I can show you. Take a look at this map this is my house.

I live at the the little "A" marker. My block is about a mile and a half around if you take a left out of the house, go up Oakmoor (uphill), left at Selford (downhill), left onto Francis (steep uphill halfway up then a long downhill), left onto Ingate ( with a little uphill and downhill) and then back onto Kelfield (which is a gradual uphill). It is not a bad little track, though there are some obstacles like poor sidewalks and some low hanging trees. It is difficult with the changing elevations and the steepness of the uphills. My goal is to be able to run the whole thing by the end of the summer. The following picture is a close approximation to what I could do when I started my little running program about three weeks ago. I am running the sections in Blue and walking the sections in Red. Basically I have been running the downhills and walking the uphills.

I start at the "A" and walk uphill to Selford. I look at this as my warm up. It gets ths juices flowing. When I would get to the corner I would begin my trot. From the corner of Oakmoor and Selford to Francis and Selford is pretty much a straight downhill shot. it starts to go up just before the corner and once you are there it is like hitting a wall uphill. I was walking this until I got just passed friendship drive. From there it was another downhill until the corner of Ingate. From there it was a walk home. It was challenging for a couple weeks, but I have begun to build up some strength and have tried to stretch out the distances I am running. Here is a map of what have been able to do for the past couple of days.

As you can see there has been some improvements, the biggest of which has been turning the corner at Ingate and going up and down until I get to Kelfield. I have also started to run a little bit sooner and try to stay running as I turn up the wall on Francis. I hope that I will be able to make it running back to the house over the next couple of weeks. I am making improvements, which is all I can ask. I also have to admit that running has really helped me sleep at night, which I have had quite a bit of issues with over the past couple of months.

If you have any tips on how to increase my stamina while running, or things that will help me run the uphills let me know. I am hoping this leads to a more svelte Brick. Here's to hoping!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What a Wonderful Ryanluck

So a couple weeks ago my team at work decided that it would be an awesome idea to hold a little potluck to celebrate the fact that the remaining individuals were... well... remaining. Being the foodie I am I got all sorts of excited. Due to the varying food preferences within my group it was decided that Herbivore vs. Omnivore would be a great theme for the potluck. Being the diplomatic person I am, I decided to make a dish that fell into both categories. Being the "cookist" I am, I decided that both had to be delicious.

I went to Wegmans this past weekend to get ingredients for dinner that day (Asian Braised Short Ribs) and for the potluck. I knew I would need to break out the cooking on Tuesday night since I was working at the big fruit Wednesday night. So I slaved away at the hot stove for a couple hours and packed up the yummy yummy to be unveiled on Thursday for all to enjoy. Then it happened.

On Wednesday afternoon a mail was sent to the group saying that the potluck had been postponed. to many people were in a demo or out of the office. I was a little crushed. There was no way I was making everything again. I had spent to much time and money on this shindig and people were going to eat it. I had made my mind up.

Today was the Ryanluck, where Ryan produced all the food and others came to enjoy. On the menu was Lemon Braised Artichokes and Spinach Fettuccine and the best Chinese Five Spice Wings with Cilantro Dipping Sauce. The food was excellent and I must admit that my co-workers enjoyed quite a bit. Now here is the best part:

I don't have to make anything for the rescheduled potluck.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

It Has Been A While, Hasn't It?


Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I have had good reason. My life once again has taken a turn for the busy. I, for the first time, feel like I was close to burnout last week. It has been an interesting point in my life (more on that in a later post) where everything looks like the status quo, but really there are lots of things that are different. I am stressed and the time I have seems to be spent on doing something that is either really not fulfilling or just unproductive. I like my me time, when I can do things that I like with it. Luckily I have gotten the chance to do some fun stuff and am definitely feeling batter about things now than I had in the past couple of weeks.

I recently had the chance visit Matt and Alyssa in New York. I had not had a chance to see them since their wedding in November 2006. It struck me as interesting that no matter how much time passes between times that we see each other Matt and I just pick up where ever we left off. The door opens and the banter begins. It was a really great trip.

On Saturday we went into the city and headed to the 14th St Apple store. Since beginning to work for them I like going into other store to see how we measure up. 14th was great, very large and a pretty cool place. I am a little jealous. It would be nice to able to hold some of the events that the NYC stores do, be we all do what we can I guess.

From there it was off to Chelsea Market. Being the foodie I am this was very exciting. the place is pretty posh, but there are some markets with ingredients that I have only seen on TV. There were all kinds of great produce, fish and imported products. About the only thing that surprised me was the lack of a butcher shop (though I hear it had recently closed). Also cool is that the market has offices for the Food Network (look at us being all suave), MLB and EMI. They also had a restaurant supply store that I am pretty sure I could get lost in for hours on end. IF I were to ever move to NYC I am sure that I would want to near Chelsea. Saturday wrapped up with some more walking and a really good burger.

Sunday was all about one thing...Baseball. Matt, Alyssa and I took the D train to the Brox and Yankee Stadium. There is something very special about this place. I mean, it is Yankee Stadium. There are some cool thing that are traditions at the stadium. Some of my favorites are the Field Crew doing the YMCA which raking the field and the Roll Call from the bleachers. The stadium overall is kinda a dump, but what can you expect from a place that is almost one hundred years old. Also I got to see Joba Chamberlain pitch, which was pretty cool. Of Course this was all happening in 100 degree heat, which is a little to hot to do anything.

Since my visit Matt and Alyssa have moved to the A-T-L. They are really excited about the move and I am really happy for them. I will need to plan a visit, hopefully sooner than 2010.

Ocean City
Over labor day weekend Dom, Elan Jordan, Brian, Country and I went to Dom's Place in Ocean City. This has become a semi annual trip. It is quite relaxing and just nice over all. This trip, of course had it's moments. Some of the highlights was the ridiculous night of Drunken Monopoly. Let me say this, it is never smart to play Drunken Monopoly with a real estate agent, a couple politicians and a "Communications Expert". I feel like this is a game that we will never forget... and hopefully never repeat.

There was also the moment of the trip. I am going to do my best to describe the scenario. Dom's place is on the bay, which affords those in residence the opportunity to enjoy the water. One of the many ways that people like to take in this relaxing experience is with a kayak trip on the water. It just so happens that Dom has a couple of these vessels in his garage, so throughout the weekend each one of us took turns heading out on the water. Below is the evidence of my personal outing on the water.


Yes, that is right, I F*ing fell in the water.... I couldn't believe it. I would like to thank Brian for "helping" by taking the photo above. I have promised myself that the next time I go down to Dom's that I am going to conquer the kayak.

Of course we went out for Putt Putt, which is always great and meet up with Brooks for a night a Phillips Buffet. It is an Ocean City Tradition. Take a look at this Motley Crew.

Overall we had an absolute blast. I really enjoy these trips and I cannot wait for the next one.

So that is a small recap about what has been going on with me. I am going to try to write a little bit more in the near future. Time will tell if I am able to do that. Until next time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Yay for Opening Day

So I have wanted to write this post for a couple of days, but I didn't want to talk about the start of a new baseball season until the Phillies had a win. So Monday passed, Tuesday went to the wayside, Wednesday was a no go. Finally, Thursday, three games into the season, I can finally talk about how excited I am about this season. I have been waiting for baseball since the four game sweep that ended the first playoff appearance for the Phils since 1993. I am excited to see if Chase Utley cam complete the MVP Trifecta. I am excited to make my yearly trip to Citizens Bank Park, and maybe a trip to either Yankee Stadium or Nationals Park... or both.

But this brings up an interesting point. I think I may be a two sport man. It is odd. I have always been a three sport plus guy. I love football and baseball, and in the past I was completely a basketball guy. I even like to attend some of the odd sports like Lacrosse, Arena Football (I think I would like it) and even a Soccer game. In recent years basketball has pretty much fallen off of my radar. I think some of this has to do with the fact that the Sixers have taken a turn for the worst since 2001. Also, since I am in Baltimore and there is no NBA presence it is hard to really follow the sport.

I think I am fine being a two sport guy. If I slip to one someone may come knocking for my Man Card.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Could I Teach About Twitter

Wednesday night, I went to a company business meeting where the keynote speaker was from he Netherlands. Okay, most of the keynote speakers are from the Netherlands, so it was really no surprise. I was excited for this particular topic as we were going to be talking about social computing and its impact on business and the world. It is a topic that I am very interested in, since I have two Blogs, am on Facebook, twitter, pownce and am constantly looking at Digg. This presentation was going to be in my wheelhouse. The presentation was given by the Director of ViNT, a research shop in the Netherlands. It was a great presentation, discussing the ways that the mass media is on the way out the door, and instead we now have "Me Media" It was fascinating. I got a chance to talk to the presenter at the bar afterwords and I think I impressed him.

While people were coming into the lecture hall I leaned over to a friend of mine and asked if one of the attendees was one of our old professors. Sure enough it was. I went over to say hello and see how things had been. It was an interesting conversation which basically ended with him asking me to submit a resume and such to come back and teach at UMBC. It was a really cool moment and I was flattered. While I was at the bar for some post meeting cocktails I had some great discussions with the presenter and some of my other colleagues about the idea of "Me Media" and how people can still be productive when they are constantly getting bombarded with information from the gazillion different bits that they get every day. I think I could teach this. I would love to teach this... we will see if this works. I will be sending my resume this weekend.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brick... Just Blog Damn It!

Another unannounced mini hiatus for bricknhymr. I once again have had life creep up on me, ask me how things are going, slap me across the face and then walk away... slowly... slowly away.

I have been crazy busy at each of my jobs. I feel like I have taken on quite a bit of responsibility and at one employer it is not an issue, because I don't really have a chance for advancement. At the other it is not an issue either, it just grinds on me a little as I really want to do well, but can never tell if I actually am.

I have had some really exciting things happen as well. First, last Friday I got to watch the Retrievers play in the big dance. I went to campus to watch the game with former co-workers and had an absolute blast. I was later told that I showed up on the WBAL coverage of the crowd, but I can't confirm that. It was amazing to see the team play in the NCAA. I kept saying to people that I waited eight years for that moment, and I really had. This could lead to big things for UMBC. I guess it is different for people who went to bigger schools, their reputation and notoriety are something that they take for granted. At UMBC we don't have that luxury. It was a privilege to watch this team and I thank them for everything that they have done for the University.

I also got to see my UMBC peeps the following day at Easter Saturday dinner. I have to admit, as much as I am a foodie, I got shown up at this meal. For one, I didn't cook anything. I brought wine instead, I just didn't have the time. Secondly, it wouldn't have mattered. The combination of Coke Ham and "Beer Can" Chicken (though coke was used for this as well) was incredible. It was an amazing time. I love hanging out with my friends and am sad that Kyle and Erin will be leaving so soon. I hope I get to spend some more time with them before they go. It was also pretty funny being the Jew and wishing everyone a Happy Sunday!

In serious news my heart and thoughts are with Alyssa and Matt right now as they get through some tough times. Know them or not, they are two of the most amazing people and should not have to go through things like this.

I have been working on improvements to eatcharmcity. Mrs. Twink and Eludius have both done some great reviews and the categories are filling out nicely. I am hoping to continue to build a nice base of reviews and start to do some home cooking highlights soon. Let me know what you think of the site.

There are lots more things going on, and they may be coming up in another post, maybe even later today (oh, when it rains, it pours!).

Talk to you all soon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I <3 Wine

For the longest time I have been a beer and cocktail drinker. It is good times. Since moving in with Ben and Jess I have begun to become exposed to the deliciousness of wine. It is nice to have as a cocktail or with dinner, though I am not at all sure that I have really become accustomed to the taste of anything that is all that dry. Luckily some of that began to change this past Wednesday.

I am part of the Chapter of Young Alumni Steering Committee at UMBC. On March 28th we will be holding our third annual Wine Tasting at Geppis Entertainment Museum. This place looks so cool and the $15 dollar ticket is only five dollars more than you would pay to just visit the museum alone. But the best part is that you also get food, wine and can participate in a silent Auction.

The C-YA Steering Committee were able to select the wines we will have at the tasting this past Wednesday. From the initial twelve we ended up with six different types of wine, three white and three red. I actually liked all of the ones that were chosen. We also got to sample the food. The food is really good and will include Crab Cakes, Tequila Chicken and lots of other things served on a stick.

Oh yeah, there will be one other thing at this event. A Silent Auction that will benefit the UMBC Alumni Scholarship fund and the Esperanza Endowment. Check out some of these items.

It looks like it is a going to be a great night. If you are at all interested get your tickets early. We have a limited number and this is normally a pretty popular event. It is just $15, there will be wine and food, amazing things to look at and bid on and lots of cool people to reconnect with. Order your ticket today!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Congrats to All

Thanks to Miriam, or maybe Chris for this pic. It is awesome. Check out the adorable life of there little one at BabyComito. They have the best pictures.

Speaking of Babies, Congrats to Emily and her hubby on the birth of their little bundle of Joy. I know that Jack Thomas (insert last name here) is going to have a super fantastic life with super fantastic rents.

Also Congrats to my Hommie Chad... that is right, he is my hommie. Getting engaged. Whooo Hooo! Can't wait for the Wedding.

And to my Alma Matter for making it to the America East Conference Finals, which will be on campus next weekend. One more win and we make history.

Lots of congrats all around. I hope things are going great for everyone!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tag... I'm it

So I got tagged by Mrs. Twink to do one of those fun surveys... Though this one is not so fun, but a little... whatever... just read it.

What is your occupation?
Senior Information Technology Consultant and Mac Specialist

What color are your socks right now?

What are you listening to right now?
Pardon the Interruption Podcast

What was the last thing you ate?Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Can you drive a stick shift?
No… It is sad but true.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Brick Red

Last person you spoke to on the phone?
Mom…. Awwwww

Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Of Course… Mrs.Twink is amazing

Favorite drink?
Tea…. And sometimes a harp and cider.

What is your favorite sport to watch?
Football. No Question

Have you ever dyed your hair?
No… how could you possible mess with this fantastic frock?

Xena, my warrior princess, miniature toy poodle, resides in Philly with the fam. Onyx and Leaper are the roomies, but they are fun most of the time.

Favorite food?
If it is edible I will probably try it. I love food so much I write about it (shameless plug – I am a sucker for lots of veggies, well done seafood and sweet and savory spices.

Last movie you watched?
The last one I watched from start to finish… Harry Potter 5. I am ashamed.

Favorite day of the year?
Super Bowl Sunday

What do you do to vent anger?

What was your favorite toy as a child?
Nintendo and building blocks

Which is your favorite, fall or spring?
I like Spring and Fall…. I just hate it when it is really hot, or really cold.

Hugs or kisses?
Hug are really good, and I may be part bear, so people like receiving them from me. I hear I am not to bad at kissing either, though I may be out of practice.

What kind of pie?
Key Lime… nothing better than this little slice of heaven on a plate.

Living arrangements?
I live in a basement… but it is better than living in a van down by the river.

When was the last time you cried?
I am not really sure. Maybe at the end of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

What is on the floor of your closet?
Some boxes and luggage.

Favorite smell?
A freshly opened Apple Laptop (don’t judge)

What inspires you?
Quality thoughts and rationality

What are you afraid of?
Small Woodland Creatures

Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?
Yes, all of these please.

Favorite car?
Civic Hybrid

Favorite cat breed?
the icanhascheezburger breed.

Favorite day of the week?

How many countries have you been to?

If you are reading this… You have been tagged. Do it….

Monday, February 25, 2008

We Are Up and Running

The first restaurant review is up on eatcharmcity. No surprise that Geckos is the first featured restaurant. I think all review sites play favorites, and this is mine. Please add this site to your RSS reader, take a look every so often and contact me if you have somewhere you want me to review or have a review you want me to post on the site. I am really excited to get this started. I think it is going to be a really good site. I hope you will join me in eating charm city.

I Waited Eight Years for This!

Saturday night, February 23rd, 2008.

This date is going to hold a special place in my heart for a pretty long time. It was on this date that my Alma Mater, UMBC, won its first ever America East regular season title. It was an amazing game overall and I cannot be prouder. I have been a pretty big fan of Retriever Basketball since I was a freshman in 1999 and Saturday was the high point of watching quite a few games at RAC arena.

Could this really happen? Could the team from a school in Catonsville really make it to the dance? No matter what UMBC will, at worst, compete in this years NIT. I really am having a hard time expressing my excitement and pride. I am very hopeful that UMBC could be the next George Mason, but I will take just being able to put on my dancing shoes.

UMBCUnderground has some great coverage of the game and what this means for the Retrievers

Go Big Dawgs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Peggle is an Amazing Game, Even More Than Before

Inside a small elementary school gymnasium a group of people are gathered. Sitting in circle of metal chairs a number of people are sipping coffee and politely chatting. Suddenly one stands.

Hi, My Name is Brick
-Hi Brick
And I am a Peggle Addict

I have previously written about my love affair with the PopCap game Peggle. It is a casual game that you can pick up and play for just a couple of minutes. Filled with addictive physics it is the first game in a very long time where I have actively raised my hands in celebration. It is amazing. Well the other day someone else noticed my love of this little game.

That person happened to be part of the Peggle Community Relations Team. It was really cool to be noticed by someone outside of my immediate circle for what I was writing. The Peggle Rep was really nice and offered to put me into an invite only Peggle Bloggers group, which sounded pretty cool. But then there was something else. Something better.

The rep then offered me a free copy of Peggle Extreme, which is available through Steam. I was super excited to try this game, as it is Peggle with the artwork and sounds from the Orange Box (Half Life 2, Portal, Team Fortress 2 and others). I have heard a little bit about this and I will admit, that for a quick little addition to the game it was blast. The inclusion of Portal type...well portals was a very cool game mechanic.

If you haven't tried it play the free demo of Portal. I still cannot wait for the sequel to this, which I think will be called Peggle Nights.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Little Fall Off of the Horse

I hate that expression. As you all read, last week was a little bit busy for me an unfortunately things did not really turn out the way I had planned. I did not pass my CAPM exam on Friday, which I am disappointed about, but not upset about. Honestly I think this is one of those things that can happen that really help a person, mainly me. Over the past year things have been happening to me pretty easily to me. I think this is going to be a really good kick in the pants, and I probably need it.

Last week I also fell off the horse of my month of no meat. I took Friday night to drown my sorrows about not passing my exam with some friends at Buffalo Wild Wings in White Marsh. My particular form of drowning consisted of a little bit of beer and a a dozen or so wings. I have been thinking of what to do about my month of no meat, and I am going to eye April. This is going to be a tentative month, but I am determined to make this happen.

I still have some work to on Eat Charm City (I know, I have been saying this for a couple of weeks) but I am really hopeful to have that done soon. In some other Blog News, I had my first guest posting on UMBC Underground. I will be writing for a series called Tales from the Past, where I will get to share about my experiences at UMBC. I am super excited about working with this site. They have done an amazing job creating a fantastic site and community and I only hope I can add to it. For anyone coming here from UU, welcome and I hope you enjoy this site.

Well, it is a little late, so I am going to head to bed. Tomorrow is another day and I have a Horse to get back onto.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another Crazy Week

There will be quite a lot going on in the life of Brick. I am working three nights at the store, plus taking my CAPM exam on Friday. I am excited and nervous for it. I have taken the course and have had quite a bit more than the required training for the exam, but I also have not taken an exam in two and a half years or so. I am not sure I can still take the pressure of sitting down and concentrating on a single thing for three hours. It is a huge deal too. If I pass It is going to really guide the next couple decisions I make professionally.

Oh and another thing. I got my taxes done this weekend. I owe the State of Maryland three grand. You read that right. Three Gs. I am all for taxes as a necessary evil and I get that I have to pay a gazillion people because I have moved around and worked in different states and such, but seriously, three F'n Gs. Of course upon finding out this news I will be contacting my HR person to be sure that my state withholdings are reset for this year.

The Man Comeith and Takeith Away... Damn the Man... Damn

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Brick Lives

It has been a pretty rough week overall. Outside of being hold up in bed with what can only be described as "the death" not much else has happened. It turns out that most of my family has been afflicted by this little disease, which is pretty impressive, considering we live a couple hundred miles away from each other. It was disappointing to have to take off four days from work. I really don't like to waste the small amount of time that I do get, plus I have to take off this coming Friday and the following Monday to take my CAPM Exam and President's Day respectively. Darn illness. Oh and I hate being sick in general. I am pretty bad at it and I'm not a huge fan of having to care of a sick brick by myself.

I did make it home for the weekend, which means I will get to hang out with the fam and some friends that I never get to see, which is always awesome.

More post to come. Peace Out

Monday, February 4, 2008

It was a Super Bowl???

I am going to be honest, no matter what happened last night I was going to be a little upset. As you know I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. This means that I was born with an ever present dislike for the cities of New York and Washington DC and an overwhelming hatred for Dallas and their stupid little cowboys. For the New York and DC things, the dislike is far greater than just cause of their sports teams. It actually harkens to the overall inferiority complex that the whole city Philadelphia has when compared to these two cities, each a mere two and half hours away (though I imagine it would be less if Mrs. Twink is driving).

Remember that Philadelphia was the start of it all. It was the political and financial center of the US during its inception. It was the most powerful city in all the land. And then, someone important decided that the political center of the new country should be closer to the actual geographic center. So instead of the beautiful city of Philly, the capital was moved to a crazy marsh land between Maryland and Virginia.

Then some other people decided that the financial of the US needed to be colder and have far less land if it was going to be a real powerhouse. They moved their financial businesses to a tiny island which they had scammed out of some Natives years before. The details of the trade involved land to the "White Folks" while the Natives received some primitive guns, small pox, alcohol and anything else that they could whittle themselves away with.

What was Philly left with? Well there was still some good art, some good food and a decidedly insane passion about sports teams. Philly fans have always been, and always will be loyal. Yes, we may call sports radio to complain about a teams management, yell and scream about how the star player needs to give a little more effort, even boo cultural icons (yes, we booed Santa Claus) but we do it for one simple reason. WE CARE. We still fly our team’s flags on our homes and cars. We stick with them through the rough times and we are rarely rewarded with any sort of championship. Most of all we cheer. We cheer for our teams and have a great deal of animosity directed for their rivals.

This brings me to last night’s game. A competition between two worthy competitors. The New England Patriots, and their pursuit of perfection (aided by the use of some interesting video equipment), and the New York Football Giants, and their desperate attempt to topple the ever present beast. Both of these teams I tend to somewhat loathe. Going into the game with this sort of mindset I was pleasantly surprised by the game overall. It was an epic battle, regardless of my personal conflict. Former Eagle Assistant Steve Spagnuolo's Defense had a fantastic pressure game for the enigmatic Pats offense. Overall there was great game play and some amazing individual plays (David Tyree, I am looking at you). It may have been the best Super Bowl I have ever seen, but something was lost. I didn't have a horse in the race. I would have been happy with a tie...

I guess I am now looking forward to the 2008 season and who knows what that will bring.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It Has Begun

The Month of No Meat (+2) Has Begun

Welcome to February. I am once again going to try to go the month with no meat. I had done pretty well in November, lasting 26 days, but then I ran up against something that jut broke me. THANKSGIVING. Not even the holiday, it was actually the day after thanksgiving. I realized that what I am thankful for is turkey sandwichs the day after.

Tonight the bloggers and I are headed to Lebanese Taverna, which should be pretty good start to the month. Sunday could be a little difficut with the Super Bowl and all, but I have a reciepe for grilled veggie sandwichs with ricotta that will get me through.

It is going to be a good month (actually I am going to March 3rd so it is 31 days), I can feel it. Wish me Luck.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yum Yum

So this week is Baltimore Restaurant Week, which is super exciting. I am hitting two places. Tonight Ben, Jess and I are headed to La Tasca, a tapas restaurant in the harbor. On Friday, the Baltimore bloggers (many of which are reading this, I hope) and I are headed to Lebanese Taverna.

This will be my first restaurant week and I am really excited for it. Also I am completing work on the template for Eat Charm City, so I should be officially launching that soon (there is a welcome up right now because i needed some text to get my bearings on the look of the page).

I will be taking my camera tonight, so I will have some pictures on both blogs shortly. Here's hoping for good eats.

If you are headed somewhere for restaurant week let me know what you think of each place you visit. I will need some ideas of where to go as I launch the new site.

A Wild Wind Blows

So I am a little under the weather, which cause me to wake up a little late this morning, however that was not the reason I was almost an hour late to the office. No that was caused by the great automotive equalizer... Wind.

No matter if you have a little light car (such as a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid), which gets pushed around due to a shear lack of overall mass, or a gigantic SUV, which plays the role of kite such gusty conditions, you are going to get pushed around a bit. What is amazing is the number of people who don't seem any the wiser about this blustery condition.

This morning I passed no fewer than four accidents, which I am sure at least three could be directly contributed to the wind. I may have actually passed five, but i would not tell if the lady who was pulled over at one portion of 695 was in an accident, or just incredibly freaked out.

Here is my personal plea to all those on the roads, be careful... and stop making me late for work.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mom Found My Blog

It is a strange experience. My mother, who would openly agree that she is not the most tech savvy person, Not only found my blog, but commented on it. A while back I wrote about how she did the little nudge nudge, wink wink about grand kids. Mom found the Blog and decided this was the thing she wanted to comment on.

Mind you I have been showing her the blog for a while, but I guess she finally figured it out. This of course re affirms that I have a super hip Mom... how cool is that?

I <3 My Mom

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Car Accident is Ending Soon??

As many of you know I was in an accident with my Civic the day after I picked it up from the dealership last in September 2006. Here are some for the lovely pics of the damage.

It looked so beautiful from the front... alas...

The back is not nearly as good. It is like the opposite of a "Butter Face"

It was so new I still had my temporary registration in the windshield and that fantastic New Car Smell. From the side you can see the real damage. The part that made me mad was the other guy got to drive away from this, I was driven to the hospital, the car dealership, the doctors and the rental place. Well it is fifteen months later and I am still going through stuff for this accident. Today there was revelation.

I got a call from GEICO and they said they were recovering my deductible and they will be working on my out of pocket expenses. This is the first bit of the out of pocket money I am getting back, and since I had purchased a car the day before this, it was a pretty big hit at the time. It will be nice to get this back, but the best part will be when i am done with everything, including the injury stuff. Who knows how long that will take, but as of today, things are looking up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yay for Tiny Little Gadgets

So I cannot talk about a super thin device that was released yesterday, but it seems to be lighter that "Air", and I am drooling to get one. Instead I am going to talk about another little device that I love. i <3 href="">Nintendo DS. So when I got this little thing it was kind of a whim. I think I was going to be headed on a trip and wanted something to do other than read. It was also right after the New Super Mario Brothers had come out. I loved the old Plumbers games, particularly the side scrollers, and thought I would give this a try. I also picked up Mario Cart DS and Brain Age.

I was really excited to see if this new incarnation really took hold and stayed true to the "It'sa Me, Mario" roots. I must say that the New Super Mario Bros. did not disappoint. I got through it, and then it was time for something else. I started both Brain Age and Mario Cart, but they really didn't grab my attention. The Totally Rad Show turned me onto Puzzle Quest, which was extremely good and I got through in just a short couple of months (I am not an obsessive gamer. I have a semblance of a life, though it is a small semblance). After I was done that I put down the DS for some time. When I picked it back up I headed back to Mario Cart and recently completed it, which was surprisingly satisfying.

Now, Unfortunately I am stuck now. I don't know what to get as my new DS game. I am thinking the new Zelda game, but I have never really been a huge fan of Zelda. Maybe there is something else out there that I have just not see. I can't see doing the brain age thing. I use my DS to relax my bewildered head, not try to train it over and over, where is the fun in that.
Anyway, if you have any ideas let me know, and if you don't have a DS, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???
PS. This is all in anticipation for Peggle Nights
UPDATE: If you are looking for some nostalgic Nintendo Fun check out

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tax Time is Around the Corner

I know what you are thinking... "Ryan you are about three months early". You clearly have not meet my dear old dad. Surprisingly, my father actually has an accountant that he brings to the house every year. The guy is great and he takes care of my dad, sister and my stuff for a pretty good price.

The issue I am having is that our appointment is on February 9th and at this point I have very little of the info that I need. Outside of some receipts for donations I have very little. I have not gotten any of the three W2s I need, no tax forms from my loan companies, no nothing. Oh my what will I do. I am actually worried about getting my W2 from my previous job, since they may be sending it my old address, which means it will need to get forwarded to me. Man, I hope I don't get caught in a bad situation. Here's hoping.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thinking About a New Project

I admit it, I am a Foodie. I really really like food. It may be an addiction. I eat it, watch it, write about it. I even have a list of people whom I idolize because they know how to cook it. Oh, I am an addict. I must continue to taste the deliciousness.

I used to be like this was about tech, but i think I have tech burnout. Most things don't really excite me in tech anymore. There has not been a really new product that has been a must have for me. The Consumer Electronics Show is going on right now, and honestly I don't really care. There have been a couple of things that have come that are cool, but overall I am very unimpressed. Plus, I am no longer allowed to write about my favorite products because I work for the company who makes them (which is really cool).!

What to do? I have thought about it for a while and I think I am going to start to write about food. Mostly resturant reviews and the occasional "home cooking" post. I am not yet sure what form this will take. I am debating between taking the real domain with wordpress plunge, like Mrs. twink is currently contemplating, or just running with Eat Charm City (with a number of template improvements and actual posts). I would also like to get reviews of restaurants from you guys, cause lets be honest, we all eat. Let me know what you think, and if you would like to jump on board and write a review every so often? Oh, and when I do get started on the new project, expect A Brick Once Said to be deleted (since I have neglected it for about four months now).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Reservations: Ads that I Like

So I took a quick look at my blog today, which is actually something I rarely do, and I noticed that I had an ad for Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I must admit, I became gitty like a school girl at the sight of this. You may be asking yourself a number of questions at this point.

  1. Why are you excited about an ad?
  2. Who the hell is this Anthony Bourdain?
  3. What makes him so important that he doesn't need to make Reservations?
  4. Gitty like a school girl, really?

Bourdain is an accomplished Chef in NYC who has a penchant for good food, good alcohol and cigarettes. In 2000 he wrote Kitchen Confidential. A close to true telling of what the lives of cooks and restaurateurs, the people who make and serve you food, is really like. The book was a hit and set Bourdain to on a path to becoming one for the preeminent "celebri-chefs" in the US. What i like about him is that he is unapologetic about the fact that he likes some things that most people would shun due to the potential ridicule, from foods you wouldn't eat on a dare, to the exquisiteness of fatty foods and meat and how the best chicken wings are served in strip clubs. He is a real person with a cooking/dining show. How cool is that?

Speaking of the show, No Reservations follows Bourdain around the world (it is on the Travel Channel after all) experiencing the foods that real people eat, traditional cooking, street vendors, the late night grab after getting very wasted. If not for the occasional scene in a fine dining restaurant I wouldn't be surprised if he came up with a rating scale made up of grease stains. I admit it, the show is set a Tivo fave for me.

It is nice to see that there are at least some ads and products that i would openly endorse showing up on my site, and the new advertising layout means that I can get moving ads, like the one for this show which you should watch.

If you are a Foodie, a city guy, have a penchant for leather jackets and can stomach the occasional gross out moment it is highly entertaining.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It was a Thai Weekend

Randomly, this weekend revolved around Thai Food. I have no idea how it happened, but I am not one to complain.

On Saturday, I worked until noon and then called up my friend Can-dance to grab lunch. We were going to go to Koydai, a rotating Sushi Bar right off the Towson circle, they however were closed for another four and a half hours. We decided that was a little to long to wait to eat and it would have cost a bunch in the meter. We decided to head across the street to Thai One On/San Sushi Too. This is a really good Thai place. I had some good Panang. The better part was of course the conversation. Can-dance and I have a strange little connection and it is a blast to hang out with her. Of course on of the best parts of the meal was when the staff at the restaurant was yelling at each other about how to make a Jagerbomb.

Later that night I got a text from Schnitz and Kristi that I should meet them at Lemongrass, located in the Flittaly (between Fells Point and Little Italy) section of the city. The place was pretty cool. A little trendy, but comfortable. The drinks and the appetizers were very good. Again, the company made the evening. I have not seen Schnitz in a couple of months and Kristi is out in the desert working for Arizona PIRG. It was a blast to hang out with them. Schnitz and I were previously roommates and I am sure that when people watch us interact there are either greatly amused or are horrified and confused. We are Heterosexual Life partners. (This is a movie reference. Two points arbitrary on the meaningless tote board to the first person to leave a comment with the movie.) In surprise events Mr. Grant, a Brother of ours who is currently in Wisconsin was actually at Lemongrass. How crazy is that. I thought he was playing with some cheese. It was awesome to see him.

As we parted ways that night we decided to head to Little Havannas for brunch. This got away from the Thai mania that was Saturday, but a change was needed. Plans changed pretty quickly on Sunday morning as there was a sign on the door of the restaurant that said something like this:
Gone Fishin' in Key West until the 9th
Due to this unforeseen event an old standby was in order. Geckos it is!! This may be one of the best kept secrets in Baltimore (though if I keep evangelizing that will quickly change). You can't beat good food and bottomless mimosas. The brunch buffet and the rest of the menu is just fantastic. We had a great time and I for one left very stuffed. Home for a nap, some Guitar Hero III and American Gladiators, but that is for another post.

My Mom Wants to be a Bobe

Look, I get that I am twenty six and my mom is 50, though you would swear she is not a day older that 39 (this is the same thing she has been swearing for about eleven years). I get that I have not really been in a healthy relationship for a while. I get that Mom "still wants to be young" and all of that, but seriously does she need to constantly talk about how she wants grand kids. I don't need that sort of pressure.

I love Mom and I know that she really just wants the best for me and all of that, but sheesh.

By the way, if you don't know what Bobe is you need to brush up on your Yiddish

Friday, January 4, 2008

What to Write Today???

The past couple of days have been nice and relaxed for me. I have not worked at Apple since New Years Day, which has been nice, even though I really like working there. I got a chance to head home and do some cooking. The other night I pulled out the old cookbook and made Cinnamon Panchetta (Bacon) Carbonara. It was like a gooey Mac and Cheese with bacon and a hint of cinnamon (aka MAGICAL).

The blog has been going well. Some of the comments I received about my Jeans Day post were hysterical. Matt and Geoff's are great. There is clearly nothing like the removal of denim and the inclusion of kilts to get people britches all in a bunch.

Here is my favorite lolcat of the day

Depending on my schedule this weekend I am looking forward to maybe going out.
Congrats to Vote NO'malley who reached a great blogger milestone. He got quoted on another blog. Good for you, even if I do disagree with some of your politics :)
Take a read through some of my last posts. The comments have been great, keep them coming. I will try to have better things to write about this weekend.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Goodbye Jeans Week: It Was Good While It Lasted

When I was a kid I used to look forward to days off from school. Scheduled holidays, snow days, a random day off because the 100 year old water main finally gave way, the reason didn't matter one bit, I was off and it was glorious. I have gotten a bit older and I don't really look forward to days off unless I have something to actually do. Instead the corporate machine has given me a new day to look forward to


I have decided that Jeans day is the greatest thing since sliced bread (though I prefer mine unsliced in loaf form). Everyone and everything seems more relaxed on Jeans day. I am clearly not the only one. I ran into a manager as he was coming into the building today he looks at me an goes "Aww Man, today is Jeans Day. I didn't know, I have been out on vacation!" Sucker has to wear Khakis all day.

Today will end our end of year Jeans run. It was a blessed time from December 23rdish until today. I am not at all looking forward to wearing actual pants to work. Maybe I could wear one of these trendy UtiliKilts (the site is really funny by the way)

Goodbye fair Jeans day... until we meet again