It’s fun to stay at the YMCA

This was one of them big weekends for yours truly and the entire family.

As you can see on the right of this post there’s a new little Flickr box and in there are some of the photos Devina and I took at my sister’s wedding, which was quite the lovely event. The event took place at a rather lovely hall up in Livingston, New Jersey which was an amazing location. The wedding itself was held outdoors in a very lovely garden and the weather held up quite beautifully all the way until the kiss. Once we headed back into the mansion, the skies started clouding up, but it didn’t matter since we were all catching up with each other. Devina and I managed to see and chat with family whom I have not seen or talked to in at least a dozen years there which is a good thing. There was chatting, drinking, eating, dancing (OMG my dad danced! DANCED!!!), laughter, celebration and farewells as both of the nearly full families met for the first time. One of the most interesting aspects of the wedding was viewing the tea ceremony my sister and Minh undertook as they served tea to his elders and other members of his rather large family. It was a very interesting ritual to watch and everyone on my side of the family was looking on in amazement. The only somewhat odd part was seeing that most of Minh’s family were seated during most of the the dancing, though I’m guessing most of that was to watch all of us Latinos make fools of ourselves on the floor! 😉 Fortunately, everyone from both sides of the families wound up getting up to shake their booties towards the end of the night and yes, there was YMCA.

Unfortunately, I did not fully read the manual for my snazzy new camera so roughly 30 of the 456 photos I took came out well enough to actually put up on my Flickr. Most of them, especially the indoor ones, came out very dark and blurry due to the settings I kept it at. The ones taken where the windows were either fully opened or taken outside came out very nicely as you can see. Then again, with the cameras flashing all over the place in there, I am sure I’ll fill up that photo set with many more down the line when I go visit my mom later on in the week. A great time was had by all, but we were so pooped at the end because of all of the running around with the photos and the dancing.

As far as the honeymoon is concerned, the bride and groom left early this morning and I think right now they’re likely enjoying a romantic dinner at their resort in Antigua. I hope they both have a wonderful time, they defintely deserve it!

Time to renew that passport

Alrighty, will someone please smack me upside the head if I forget to wear sneakers again the next time I visit a museum with some friends? As I mentioned before, my friend Tasha flew up with her husband to visit some family as well as to spend time with some of their friends. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to hang out with them a few days ago over in the city and it was a blast. Mostly because I haven’t seen her in so long (though oddly enough it was not as weird as I thought it would be seeing her again), but also because I got to meet her way cool husband and also spend some QT at one of the more fascinating museums in the city. Sure, I dig some good art every now and then, but put me in front of some displays of science and you’ve got me mesmerized. Heck, you can even go so far as saying I consider it mind porn and let’s face it, everyone lurves their porn right? Speaking of which, I really need to update my collection but that’s just me thinking out loud (well not really out loud, I’d imagine you catch the drift) so you can disregard that.

Unfortunately, my dumb ass decided to wear my work shoes on my little exhibit adventure so by closing time, my dogs were barking something fierce. So into my car we hopped and proceeded to make our way downtown for some after museum festivities. We drove down to the West Village to dine at one of my favorite restaurants, but we got there rather early. So we decided to get a good pre-dinner buzz going and stopped into a nearby pub for tasty spirits while we waited for both the reservation to come up and for my lovely girlfriend to make her way up from work. A couple of pints of Guiness later, we ventured over to the eatery and got some Mojitos and enjoyed a rather lovely evening of paella, enchiladas, mussels, garlic shrimp, escargot and desserts. Afterwards, we dropped them off at the train station and made our way back home.

Let me tell you, it was TORTURE walking up the damn steps to my place! With every step up, I felt as if my left foot was about to fall off it’s hinges. When I took off my shoes, I could swear I heard steam whizzing out of them and holy crap did it feel good to let them breathe a little. Sadly though, a restful night’s sleep did not do much to alleviate the pain, so the next day at work was rather unpleasant. A couple of days afterward, I am glad to say things have returned to normal in that department.

Other than that, nothing new has been going on with me lately though the little lady and I are in the beginning stages of planning a trip later in the year to Montreal. How cool is that? Anyone have any recommendations for places to stay or things to do? I’m waiting on a couple of friends to give me the skinny about that city since they’ve both been there a few times each, but I figure any bit of advice would help. The chickie and I are figuring this place would be great since it’s our favorite place to stay at when we’re in Philly, however it’s nice to weigh all of our options methinks.

I’ve got some good news

There’s been a lot of talk here in Jersey about many many things. One I won’t go into just yet because it gets weirder and weirder every day and it looks like it will be a long time before things can get to a level where people can really see what happened.

Another is the fact that Geico has finally started writing auto policies in our lovely state. I’m not sure if many of you know, but we folks here in Jersey pay either the highest or close to the highest auto insurance rates in this country. To illustrate this fact, a few years ago right after I lost my car in a hit and run accident, I was paying close to $4500 per year for my auto insurance. Yes, you read that right. Four thousand five hundred dollars for a 26 year old male living in Northern New Jersey and let me tell you, that fucking sucked. When I switched to AllState last year, my rate dropped down to $3600 for the year. True it sucked, but it was a hell of a lot better than what I was paying the year before.

Having Geico come into the state however, caused a great deal of concern for most residents (including me). See, Geico and many other auto insurance companies use credit-scoring as a basis for giving you a good or bad deal on your insurance. It seems to these companies that the better your credit rating, the better and safer a driver you are. Personally, I do not agree with these sentiments, but to each their own I suppose.

So last week, I decided to get a quote from Geico and holy ef’fing shit was I shell shocked. My initial quote from the site was $2400 for the year and this was guessing at what my current coverage entailed. It turned out I chose much higher coverage amounts than what my current insurance plan with AllState contained. So after a bit of tweaking and some chatting with the Geico rep, my final amount for coverage this year is:

$1800

Oh yeah, half of what I paid the year before. You can not believe how fast I switched. To some of you, this may seem like an insane amount, but compared to what I paid the past two years in auto insurance, I made out like a bandit.

Now I understand those silly Geico commercials…

Wha wha what??

I am completely amazed with the turn around of the MVC. I went in this morning expecting a huge line and lots of whiny people about ready to burn the place down (I’m not kidding) but instead, was greeted with something I would never imagine seeing in a Motor Vehicle office.

Smiling faces almost everywhere.

I have no clue how the former head of MVC Diane Legreide did it, but I have to say compared to the last time I got my drivers license renewed, this was an absolute pleasure. I stepped in and saw 2 people at the Info desk (in the past seeing anyone there was a rarity) who were busy shuffling people to their respective lines. I went up, showed my documents, he signed it and I went off to my line. There were roughly ten people ahead of me, but they went through the line like no one’s business. In ten minutes I was sitting back down waiting to be called for my photograph. Fifteen minutes later, I got called up and I chatted with the girl for a few minutes, then paid my twenty-four dollars and finally attempted to look pretty for my new picture. I then got to approve my picture and signature and again sat down to wait for my card. Five minutes later, she called my name, I had my nifty new digital drivers license and was on my way out the door when I was stopped by a supervisor asking me to fill a survey. While I was regaling their praises on the survey, several of the staff workers started singing “Happy Birthday” to someone who was renewing their license. It turns out at this particular MVC office, it’s a tradition for the staff to sing that song to people if they find out it’s their birthday on that day.

In and out of a New Jersey Motor Vehicle office in roughly 30 minutes with a smile on my face… I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t experience it myself.