Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Howdy Doodle,

Last weekend was quite impressive. I reiterated my last minute decision making preference. On Thursday, my plan was to get in my car on Friday and start driving towards Canada (16hrs). By Friday, I had a place to stay in New York, and two very amazing friends to spend the weekend.

I drove up the New Jersey Turnpike Friday evening whilst drinking an amazing cup of joe from Wawa's quick stop chain. (Very popular up here... who the heck named it Wawa???) I left Maryland in about errr 70 degree weather and arrived north of NYC at around 35. A cold front moved in Friday night. Saturday morning we woke early to catch the 7:43 train into Grand Central Station in Manhattan.

Saturday morning rounds included the Empire State Bldg, Times Square, Central Park, amazing break dancers on the side of the street, large apple store, largest Tiffany's jewelery store... , the signature Macy's, cabbing to Brooklyn to eat at Peter Lugar (the nation's best steak), cabbing to wall street, walking to ground zero, walking through china town, going to a pub, cabbing back to Grand Central, then training back home.

Sunday included driving north to Hyde Park, the location of FDR's home. Touring his House, his presidential library, and seeing amazing tree foliage... geeze it was perfect. For lunch we drove east across the Hudson to a small town near the Catskill Mountains to eat at a high acclaimed Authentic German restaurant... it was awesome. The waitresses were dressed in German dresses. I had a super tasty Spaten Oktoberfest beer and some amazing Jaeger Schnitzel.

Afterward, I drove back to Southern Maryland. Quite and adventure.

This week will be the final week of this stay in Maryland. I will end the week between DC and Baltimore possible. I am thinking about spending a day in Harper's Ferry west of DC and possible going to a Leeland concert in Baltimore. We shall see.

In other news, Eric Brown and I probably have the most number of legit mutual friends on Facebook. I challenge you to beat our numbers, 208.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today consisted of two presentations. One with the board of directors at the Maryland Pilots Association and the other with Lt. Cmdr. Ditmar and Lt. Cmdr. Beach of the US Coast Guard Sector Baltimore... I'm starting to get this military jargon down.

Our presentation to the board and it went very well. I usually find the presentations turn into more of a classroom atmosphere where we teach from a book written by Sandia National Labs located here.

Before the meetings, I was hit with guilt in my hotel room the night before. I've been on the ball with getting out and running at a state park near our LNG terminal called Calvert Cliffs. (very pretty run along the beach / through the woods on a trail). I just can't seem to counter the effects of eating crab cakes.

The crab is an interesting creature. How many animals can you name which produce such amazing cakes? The cow patty possibly? If I ever get married, I'm requesting a groom's cake be made of crab. I've actually become a self proclaimed connoisseur of the crab cake. I've eaten them in nearly all of the top rated establishments in Maryland who all claim to have the first place prize (from different contest sources). There are the fried crab cakes and the baked crab cakes that seem to be most popular. Some have large chunks of crab and some have more of a stringy consistency. I believe the ideal crab cake to be one which is oven baked with very large chunks of crab. Not over baked! Just enough to crisp the outside and keep the inside crabby.

Last night, Autumn, our waitress, convinced myself and a colleague to order a crab cake on top of half a rack of ribs. Being gullible, stupid, and expenses paid, we both decided that had to be a good choice.

In summary, I could only eat half of the meal and I felt sick the rest of the night. I could not successfully mix pork ribs and crab cakes. I'm getting queasy thinking about it.

My Second meeting with Lt. Cmdr. Ditmar and Lt. Cmdr. Beach of the US Coast Guard Sector Baltimore also went extremely well, especially since it only lasted 30 minutes. The result of the meeting is basically we are doing a good job, so I get to go back to Texas.

I was wanting to go back this week, so secretly I was wanting a bad review so I could go back sooner. (not really, ha) I'll be here another week or so as a result.

This week I'm going design an exciting itinerary for the weekend to keep me motivated to finish up this project. I'll release the details later this week. Philly may be in the mix... possibly NYC...

I have slew of pictures on my camera... but I left my silly cord, so I can only post pictures from my phone. (the cords cost $20 at staples and I have around 4 in Houston).

On a different tangent, I follow economic news pretty closely. I do fear what could happen when Q3/Q4 earnings are released. I think the main way companies will compensate for a drop in revenue/profit will be to cut jobs. I've been very blessed with this job and DNV seems to be risk averse seeing as it is not directly subject to the fears of the market since it is an independent non-profit foundation. The largest issue will be a slow down in client's large capital projects which require risky financing, I think at least.

I miss playing guitar. I'm also bummed I missed the Table's retreat!

welp, going to bed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Family, friends, and random people:

I want to share my current state of affairs with you guys; I've played the detached relative role for quite some time. I find myself talking more about my family and friends than directly. My stay on the eastern shores of Maryland has defined excellence, but at the same time I look forward to returning and sharing my experience. I'm super thankful for the opportunities and blessings I have and am experiencing!

Most of the duration of my "work" time has been spent writing a paper accompanied with helping shape understanding of liquefied natural gas (LNG) behavior. A decent movie parallel could be Erin Brockovich... except we know the risks of LNG transportation and they aren't concealed. (and I don't have Julia Roberts' eyes). I have a knack for meeting and relating to others and my stay here has exercised this quality. Friday I spoke to a group which is very similar to boyscouts for retired boaters, the Coast Guard Auxillary. The challenge was to explain how 1000ft carriers shipping equivalent energy of a WWII a-bomb do not pose a significant threat to their Chesapeake Bay homes. "1000ft carriers" and "a-bomb energy equivalence" are frightening descriptors, so when I paint the picture for others, its important to remind myself how perception can control a person's view of reality. I guess that is why first impressions are so important. In summary, the presentation was a success and they were extremely grateful for spending my Friday evening talking and answering their questions. "Old people" are great.

Friday, congressman Hoyer and his entourage came to our client's facility for a ground breaking ceremony followed by orderves. With more interactions in the political arena, I've only become more perplexed trying to figure out a skillful politician's career development plan. I am not sure the answer exists. It sounds like people move to the hill after college, rent some nook or cranny for dirt cheap ($500ish/mo), find someone who knows someone who knows a congressman's office, and work for free or an equivalent to until the resume looks good enough to get into law school (all the while being subjected to the way the cookie crumbles). Sounds risky to me.

I've reignited my baseball card/magic card collection habits by starting a binder of business cards. Its actually kind of sad to think that a familiar satisfaction occurs when I acquire a new contact which I deduct could be useful in the long run (sort of like cards which I know will appreciate in value). It is similar to finding a long lost rookie card of an amazing current day player.... or opening a pack of magic cards only to realize the rare card is in high demand and a foil! ha. I also had dinner with a tug boat captain this past week and was given a tour of her. She's a beaut.

Outside of work, I've become a regular in our bed and breakfast -- through this I meet other regulars and we share the role of awkward long/short term resident through breakfast/dinner groups. The past few weeks the group has consisted of a couple of test pilot Swedes and Nevadian software developers for F-18 landing gear systems. Last week I chaired a meeting on a nearby naval air base which these guys worked. On the way to the meeting I saw the new Marine One helicopter being test flown, pretty neat. We had lunch at the officer's club mess hall, which was across from a high quality 18 hole golf course, naturally.

I had to pass on a dinner invite in Houston with the CEO of a company called Circadian Technologies this week. I really want to go... I'm running an internal project which is looking at the feasibility of establishing a partnership between the two companies. The only issue is I would have to fly back to Baltimore for a 9AM meeting the next morning with the board of directors of a group called the Maryland Port Association to present this project. It was logistically impossible unfortunately. I am excited about the project nonetheless -- it will involve lots of interfacing with their Boston office in conjunction with our offices in Rio De Janeiro and London. I have that to look forward to when I finish up here. Honestly once I move back to Texas, my work will be very stress free until January with conferences, vacations, and holidays.

I'll be in College Station for a week to attend the Process Safety Center's symposium at the end of October, I have a tentative canoe trip planned in the beginning of November and a Big Bend trip set up right before Thanksgiving. I'm planning on spending a good deal of time in Nacogdoches this winter which will be fun. In Jan I'll join a group to ski Breck. for a week or so. I'm working on mentally separating work from life. It's not easy when I'm still trying to figure out how to do work well. I bet these great opportunities will help recharge this effort.

I've had the itch to read a good book lately and ended up going to a sunday school class who gave me a free one to read called Perspectives (a relevant store book)! I took it as an answered prayer, so here I am today in a panera bread reading and writing.

I've finally figured out how to get free AT&T wifi at Starbucks as well... it is actually pretty easy but takes a little online setting up -- 2 hours per day if you have an active gift card.

I guess this post is winding down... random facts list time:

- I walked through the wind tunnel shaft of the Chesapeake bay bridge tunnel
- I climbed the Stony Man in the Shenandoah State Park (which the Appalachian Trail travels through)
- drove the Skyline Dr. -- the leaves are in the beginning stages of changing.
- visited Assateague Island and saw the wild ponies.
- ate Virginia stuffed ham, sword fish, rock fish, and crab cakes
- tasted Maryland wines in a field
- watched a red neck boat docking competition
- went to metal works arts fest
- went to a river appreciation day festival
- went to a changing of the leaves festival
- next weekend is oyster fest and shucking competition
- traveled DC, most favorite spots have been Lincoln Memorial/FDR memorial / South Korean section of the Smithsonian.
- This week I plan on doing some rounds in Baltimore before the meeting