This will (somewhat) chronicle the next, and so far best, chapter in my life! I've moved to Hockessin, DE with an amazing woman that I am happy to call my fiance, and soon my wife. I also have a great house, dog, and couldn't be happier!
22 December 2008
I wish I had some pictures, but they do not allow cameras inside the Kimmel Center.
She has gone every year for quite some time. I have been to events similar to this, but nothing as prestigious as the Philly Orchestra. They're generally 5th on the list of American Orchestras, but they also have a lot of their own claims to fame. Check out their history: http://www.philorch.org/about.html
The concert itself was very impressive. Tanya got us incredible seats, and we had a great view of the stage. The conductor was the typical, animated guy that really put his heart into the whole performance. At the end, he wished us a Merry Christmas, and the chorus actually sang, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." We found this to be very refreshing. Refreshing, as opposed to the ridiculous, politically correct "Happy Holidays" for fear of offending anyone. Side note: anyone who is offended by "Merry Christmas" can head straight to Pakistan and join up with the Taliban. Weirdos.
Anyway, the orchestra was absolutely incredible and we had a lot of fun. The two hours went by so fast, I was surprised when it was over!
This was the program:
Mendelssohn - Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Redner - O Little Town of Bethlehem
Murray - Away in a Manger
TRADITIONAL - Angels We Have Heard on High
TRADITIONAL - God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on "Greensleeves"
TRADITIONAL - Good King Wenceslas
Tchaikovsky - Excerpts from The Nutcracker
Mason - Joy to the World
Wade - O Come, All Ye Faithful
Gruber - Silent Night
TRADITIONAL - The First Nowell
Schubert - Ave Maria
Bach - Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Handel - Pastoral Symphony, from Messiah
Handel - Hallelujah Chorus, from Messiah
There was also some interesting facts about a lot of these songs in the program. For instance, did you know that O Little Town of Bethlehem was written by a rector at the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia? Here are some more tidbits: http://www.philorch.org/pdfs/prognotes/0809_web21.pdf
It was an AMAZING show and an amazing night. Afterwards, we enjoyed a couple drinks at the Four Seasons.
04 December 2008
28 November 2008
It also make this stupid blogger formatting wizard somewhat less frustrating. Such are the benefits of good cigars and great whisky.
Anyway, on to the point of this post!
Tanya invited me to her relatives' house for Thanksgiving this year. She warned me that they are crazy people and I should be prepared to be surprised and possibly shocked at dinner. Luckily, I've experienced 32 years of Craig (and our associated extensions) family dinners, so I'm pretty sure that nothing would surprise me.
Tanya's family IS crazy! But, they're incredible as well. Very genuine and very funny. I had an absolute blast at dinner.
We showed up and the wine had already been flowing. Quite a bit of it! The best part was that is was homemade. The origins are somewhat shady, but after talking to Jim...I found out that it was made somewhere in South Philly. Not exactly wine country or the Napa Valley, but it was good. Granted, it was twice as strong as regular wine, but tasted great. There was also some homemade lemoncello that Tanya's Uncle's (Anthony) Mother made. Linda was her name. Not only did she make the lemoncello, but she made cookies, cranberries and cranberry mold (both from fresh cranberries by the way!) that were to die for. Tanya has already professed that she would like to be that woman someday. Hey, I would like to be that woman someday. If I could prepare food like this...I'd consider it!
The entire dinner was absolutely amazing. I tried a small amount of everything. I took what I would normally consider about half a portion of each dish and I still had literally mound of food on my plate. By the end of the dinner, I wished I had worn sweat pants instead of slacks. I needed the extra room!
I was the DD, so I could only sample the aforementioned drinks, but Tanya had no such inhibitions. Let's just say she'll fit right in with the Craig's at any family function;)
We actually forgot that we brought the camera until well into the meal. We managed one quick shot of the table, put the camera down, and it didn't surface again for several hours. Tanya decided to take a lot of candid shots of her family, which came out great. Unfortunately, we didn't get any shots of the two of us, but we'll solve that at the next family outing.
This was a great Thanksgiving! Her family is awesome. Can't wait to introduce her to ours!
Here are the pics:
Tanya's cousin, Phil, helping prepare the table. On the right is the aftermath of the first round of eating. We are all trying to mentally prepare for dessert.
The Matriarch. This is her Uncle Anthony's mother, Linda (on the right).
The two primary cooks. On the left is Tanya's Aunt Gabriella. Her Aunt Lee is on the right.
Tanya and her Uncle Anthony. And then again after a couple lemoncellos....
Yes, she was blowing kisses. On the right is her other Uncle, Chris.
Though not alcohol induced, I was getting pretty tired. That's what eating your bodyweight in awesome food will do to you!
What a great Thanksgiving! I can't wait until the next one - probably Christmas.
Great times with great people! Thanks Tanya!
This picture was actually a while ago. Now, most cats could do this no problem. You know, most cats are good jumpers, graceful, good balance, etc. Not Renegade. He has all the grace of a drunk offensive lineman on ice-skates. How he managed to balance on the back of this chair I'll never know....
This thing's "preview" function doesn't preview what you're seeing here, so it's anyone's best guess as to how these show up....
I thought this was hysterical! The poodles (even the mini ones) are trained to sit like this when they rest so that they don't mess up their groomers' efforts. This guy looked like he'd had quite enough. If he was a Craig dog.....he'd be thinking it's high time for a drink!
These are two of Tanya's cousins. Diana is on the left and Ava is on the right. They are with a Black Russian Terrier. They are getting one of these in about a week, so we snapped a picture of them with their future dog (well, the same breed anyway). They're great dogs, very nice, but very big!
This was another funny one. The picture on the top is a close up of what you see on the bottom. It's a giant poodle, and if you're having trouble understanding what you're looking at (I know I did...and I was standing two feet from this thing) - imagine that the dog is sitting like the Sphinx and facing the groomer. The little puffs you see on the top are on its hips. The gray is the dog's skin. After talking to some of the poodle owners, apparently these puffs are functional. They keep the dogs' joints warm while it's hunting, but clip the rest of the fur to keep it from catching on stuff. Whatever.
A big Schnauzer! And Ava with her favorite of the show - some kind of Sheep Dog. I forgot the name, but this particular dog's name was Toby. Somehow...that just fits.
Finally, this guy on the top didn't look too happy to be there. Beautiful dog though. And on the bottom - Tanya's favorite. Basically, these dogs are one walking wrinkle...
That was the show! If you ever have a chance to go to a dog show, I highly recommend going. It's cheap entertainment and if you're an animal lover, you can't go wrong!
19 November 2008
Your hair color? Brownish
Your mother? Funny
Your father? Professional
Your favorite thing? Triathlon
Your dream last night? ?
Your dream goal? Family
The room you're in? Office
Your hobby? Guitar
Your fear? Spiders
Where do you want to be in 6 years? NSC
Where were you last night? Home
What you're not? Naive
Wish-list item? MONEY!
Grew up? Uninhibited
Last thing you did? Typed (ah, ah, ah...)
You're wearing? Nomex
Your TV? Movie
Your computer? Work
Can't live without? Family
Your mood? Apathetic
Missing someone? Yep
Your car? Useful
You're not wearing? Suit
Favorite shop? Williams-Sonoma
Your summer? Racing
Love someone? Yes
Love/Hate Relationship? Swimming
Current addiction? TopChef
Your favorite colour? Red
Last time you laughed? Yesterday
Last time you cried? Dunno
So that's my list!
05 November 2008
Strength versus standing. Period. This is not a choice I wanted to make, but one I felt necessary. I was on the fence up until I pushed the button for the McCain/Palin ticket. I firmly believe that restoring our status in the world should be among the top priorities for the new administration. However, I worry that Obama will not be strong enough to resist the manipulation of the “Washington Institution” that may try and bend him to someone else’s wishes when it comes to this much needed responsibility. If this happens, it will be obvious to the world, and today we cannot afford for the world to perceive us as weak. Better to maintain our current perception than to turn into a Britain, or Spain, or other country that is “pretty good” but will not retaliate when provoked or attacked. McCain may not have given diplomacy as much of a chance as Obama will, but if I have to choose between maintaining our security and improving our world standing, I have to choose security. I realize that these are intimately related, but you have to start somewhere. The rest of the world may “like” Great Britain and Spain more than the U.S., but the fact is – both of those countries suffered multiple terrorist attacks (or potential attacks, or both) and the U.S. has suffered none. The incoming President must re-establish the United States as the leader of the free world and as a country that everyone admires, and he must do so in the interest of the people – not in the interest of Congress or the Presidential Cabinet. He must also do so without jeopardizing our deterrent as the most powerful country in the world.
On Foreign Affairs: this did it for me. While I think that President Obama’s ideas will have better luck with international relations, I have serious doubts about his ability to stand up for what he believes and to follow through with his promises to be more diplomatic. I strongly support the notion of diplomacy first (one of President Bush’s only successes in this arena was when he finally stopped beating North Korea over the head, sat down and talked, and they dismantled their Yongbyon nuclear reactor), but Obama has to maintain that vision. I worry that VP-elect Biden and others in Washington (Congress, the incoming cabinet and outside agencies) will try to manipulate President-elect Obama and bend him to their wills. I have not liked Biden ever since he put forth and voted on a “non-binding resolution” on Iraq that was a slap in the face to our military. Some of the verbiage read, “it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq." As the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, could not his efforts and those of his committee be better spent trying to help the situation in Iraq from a diplomatic approach, instead of wasting taxpayer money and the government’s time on a clearly partisan and completely useless piece of legislation? I also think that his ideas on what to do with Iraq are ludicrous. Not only are they ignorant and shortsighted, but logistically, they are impossible. Imagine trying to separate New York City by ethnicity or religion. You wouldn’t make it two blocks.
The one thing I will say for President Bush is that his strength of character is admirable. The man made a decision and did not waffle, regardless of attacks – even from within his own administration or party. As we used to say in the Army, “…the only bad decision is the one that’s never made…” and I saw that in President Bush. While I did not agree with many of his decisions, I respected the fact that he made them with what he believed to be the best interest of his country. Obviously, not everyone will agree on every decision, but that is why being a leader is so difficult, and why someone has to eventually make a decision. I wonder how many people who criticize President Bush would have the intestinal fortitude to make the decisions he has had to make? Probably not very many. I saw that kind of strength in Senator McCain, but not in President-elect Obama. To those who disagree, I ask that you watch McCain’s concession speech for a lesson in class, professionalism, and character.
I hope for all our sake that Obama will have that strength because while we do not need to go rattling our saber around the world anymore, we do need to improve our relationships with many countries. It will take a very strong leader to re-establish our leadership, draw the world’s admiration again, and do so without starting any more wars.
On Domestic Policy: generally speaking, this plays little into my decision making when it comes to the Presidency. The current “financial crisis” is over-inflated I think. No doubt it hurt the Republican ticket and party, but to think that this is the single-most important issue facing the nation is a bit of an over-statement. Granted, the housing market is in shambles, and the car-loan industry is probably next, but the market will recover, and I believe quickly. I may be somewhat naïve, when it comes to global finance, but I do work in an industry that is a key indicator of the economy from many viewpoints – the petrochemical industry. I have long maintained (as have many) that market speculation was the primary driver for the rapid rise in the price of crude oil. Did anyone notice that as the violence in Iraq steeply dropped in the spring and summer, and the focus of the nation (and world) turned to the election and the financial upset, that the war took a back seat in everyone’s mind? As the war goes, so goes the speculation about crude oil. The price per barrel of crude is directly tied to the instability in the Middle East. Notice how events in Venezuela, Nigeria, and even hurricanes hitting our own shores are at best a blip on the screen of crude prices. When the War on Terror became a back-burner issue, what happened? Crude oil began a steady decline to currently be at a level less than half of what it was in July. I am positive that an economist or anyone who disagrees with me will delve into an argument about supply and demand, but I have a hard time believing that. Airlines are still packed, people still have to get to work (has no one been in a traffic jam since the price of crude spiked?), mall parking lots are still full, people still need things made from petroleum derivatives – so no, I do not buy the supply and demand argument for a second: that decreased demand has driven down the price of crude oil.
My point of all of this is that I do not think the Presidency will have much of an effect on “turning the financial crisis around.” This was far from foremost on my mind as I was deciding for whom to vote. As for the other domestic issues, energy is the only one that remotely ties to what I do care about: foreign affairs. A brief aside about energy – I am not overly concerned about what either candidate does or does not do about alternate forms of energy, etc. Those endeavors will largely be steered by special interests and lobbyists with little influence from President-elect Obama (or Senator McCain if he had won), and besides, we will be dependent on oil and its derivatives for quite some time.
On Palin: this was a tough one to get over. I suppose that I thought if McCain were healthy enough to get through this campaign, hopefully he would make it at least another four years. All of the fears I have with Obama being manipulated by the Washington establishment I would triple for a President Palin.
I do think that Obama has the potential to be a great President. I sincerely hope that he will look at his historic election for what it was – historic. And NEVER bring up his race again. Moreover, I think he should downplay his race in the future, lest people start to think the only reason he was elected is that he is an African American. I do not believe this, but I believe it would be in the best interest of everyone if the world did not believe it either.
If he sticks to his strengths – inspiration and charisma, as well as his desire to diplomatically restore our world standing, but at the same time keep our security at the forefront; I do believe this could be a great four years. He just needs to ensure he fulfills these inspirational goals.
At times I am optimistic to a fault, and on President-elect Obama I am cautiously optimistic. He will need a little bit of McCain’s “maverick” quality to repel the Biden-institutionalized thinking inside the Beltway, and as long as he does so, he will have my full support.
JAC – 5 November 2008
20 October 2008
15 October 2008
10 October 2008
Clay and I enjoyed the most amount of beer, I think. And I, at times, enjoyed two at once!
I finally had to just go get a beer...We had a blast! Can't wait for the next big Philadelphia drinking festival. Not sure when, who, or where; but in this city it's a guarantee. Possibly if the Phils keep winning in the NLCS!!!
We'd both planned on running the ING Philadelphia Distance Run, but I hurt a hamstring a few weeks before the race. I was SO upset that I couldn't run with John, but fortunately, he was still able to do the race. It's a great run, all through the downtown historic part of Philly, and then out along the banks of the Schuylkill River. Remember the scenes in Rocky when he was pulling Mickey behind him? Yeah, that's on the Schuylkill (by the way, that's skoo-kull). It's probably an Indian name, but I haven't had the motivation to look it up.
The night John arrived, me, Tanya, and John went to Monk's Cafe for dinner. Monk's is a very cool Belgian themed "beer bar" here in Philly. We had a great dinner of mussels and other assorted goodies and Tanya and I proceeded to enjoy the great beers. John had a couple, but he did have to run the next day! After getting home, we tortured him with a late night game of scrabble while Tanya and I had a martini and a couple drams of Scotch. We ended the game soon and finally let John get some rest!
The next morning, John did the race and I lamely waited with coffee in hand as he finished with a damn good time. I believe is was 2:04, correct John?
After that, we headed down to Dover, DE. All of the people I work with (the "experts") said that it would take HOURS and we'd be in traffic forever and we'd never make the start!!! We left at about 1100 and were walking to our seats at about 1230 - and that's after we stopped at the Sunoco hospitality tent for some free food and schwag.
We hit the stands and proceeded to watch a great race. Thanks again to John for springing for the radios that allow you to hear the pits and drivers talk to each other - one of the coolest things at these races.
Now, as we were sitting there we discussed what it would be like if Holly had been there. This led to us laughing quite frequently. There is a certain awareness of humanity that you can only get at NASCAR races. Not all races - some are pretty posh. However, the track in Dover makes you feel like you're smack in the middle of the movie Raising Arizona. The best part is that as we were walking down the swaying, flimsy metal steps under the flimsy metal bleachers at the end of the race; we were getting rained on by God only knows what kinds of fluids.
In any case, it was a great time. Once again, we largely beat traffic on the way home and had another good dinner and good beers at The Belgian Cafe (same owners as Monk's, but it's a block and a half from where I live).
Great times!! John - when are we doing this again!!!???
Another good pic of the beach, and notice the sky!:And my personal favorite....
More new posts as soon as I can get them ready!!!
12 September 2008
Anyway, I saw this on a radio show's website and thought it was hysterical. The person who made it added some sound effects, but it's still very funny.
This cat might even be dumber than Renegade!
Last night I had a martini while sitting in the Diamond Club section at the Phillies game. Very, very nice.
She shares season tickets with some other lawyers in her office, and we went to last night's game against the Brewers. The Phils won, 6-3 and it was a great time. The Diamond Club is the section directly behind home plate and we were 17 rows up (about 50 m from home plate)! It was also the first time I've ever had draft Stella Artois at a baseball game.
After getting some food, we were sitting in the exclusive Diamond Club bar and I noticed that it was in fact, a full bar. I mentioned that I never thought I'd be in a position to drink a martini and sit in the stands at a baseball game. With that, Tanya promptly got up, went to the bar, and came back with an ice cold Beefeater martini...up, with two olives! Granted, it was in a plastic martini glass, but hey - they have to have some rules.
In any case, it was a great time. That's the way to do baseball games - in style!