Thu, 30th Mar '06, 8:05 am::

Thanks to the Internet, I now know exactly what different kinds of roofing material for my flat roof mean. TPO, EPDM, Masic Asphalt... so many choices, so little money. Oh yeah, I need to immediately figure out a way to pay for a new roof for my house otherwise my homeowners insurance company won't renew my insurance in June. Even before I bought the house, I pretty much knew that I'd have to get a new roof sometime soon, just not this soon. It's gonna be tough but I'm kinda hopeful that it'll all work out. And then I'll have a new roof!

I can't wait to get my house appraised so that my PMI is gone! Basically that means if the price of my house has gone up 25% since I bought it, I can save $120 a month that I'm currently paying for extra insurance. Now obviously the price of houses don't do up that much normally within a year or two but the St Pete / Clearwater / Tampa area has seen the highest rise in property values in the past few years. Sure it'll slow down but for now I'm just hoping to save $120/month somehow. And of course the market value of my house will go up because of a new roof. So that'll make it easy to hit the 25% rise sooner. Now if only I had $5000 just lying around, I'd get a new roof this weekend!

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Mon, 27th Mar '06, 8:30 am::

Happy B'day Tamara!!!

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Sun, 26th Mar '06, 10:55 pm::

Behold!!!!!! My new Triple-19-inch-LCD Setup!!! It makes me soooooo happy. And hopefully, more productive. Don't hate me :-P

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Sun, 19th Mar '06, 8:35 pm::

Today has been a pretty lazy day for me. Sundays I like to sit around the house or yard and do nothing. Last night we went to a Greek Night Club with Natalia & Lanie that we've been to before. It was pretty awesome and got pretty wild. Lanie bit my back! After the club I took Natalia to the St. Pete Diner on Route 19 that I always go to whenever I stay out late. Dropped her off around 4 am and passed out soon after.

Woke up this morning around noon, went into my backyard with a pillow and laid down on my new bench. Talked to my parents and a few friends as I relaxed. Saw my neighbor Mike and talked to him for a while about stuff. Around 5pm, got inside, watched a little TV, had some breakfast, and passed out on my loveseat. I just woke up. I got all the sleep I needed.

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Sat, 18th Mar '06, 7:55 pm::

Wow... what a day. Woke up at 8:30 and went straight into my backyard. Cleaned up the plant beds and did some digging for about three hours. Also trimmed a few plants in the frontyard. I sat on my back porch for a short break and felt kinda unaccomplished. No matter what I do, this whole backyard project is so big, I barely see any progress. So I decided I need a mini-project that's gonna make me happy and proud.

So presenting... the Log Lounge Bench! I found a picture of this lounge chair and decided I wanted to make something like that without the back-rest. I had the perfect place for it too - under my tree. Took me two trips to the Home Depot, $50 of wood & screws, and four hours from start to finish to complete the project.

First I had to cut-to-size the two large, roundish logs that form the main body. I used the extra wood as legs. The flat planks that form the top also had to be cut from two 12-foot planks. Once I screwed the legs into the two logs, I knew this was gonna come out sweet. Of course it wasn't as easy as it sounds because I had to first drill 3 holes for each leg into the big logs, then widen each hole upto half the depth, then use another drill-bit to drill through the big log to the leg, and then finally push in the screw into the leg using another bit. I love automatic screw guns.

Once I firmly attached two flat planks to the far ends of the logs, it was pretty much cakewalk after that. I used countersink to make sure the screws don't pop out from the planks. After all the flat planks were screwed on the top, I turned the bench over and attached the side-tray for holding my drinks :) Took about 2.5 hours to get it all together.

Now since the wood had a lot of splinters, I wanted to smoothen it. Sandpapering the edges is easy and cheap but it's a very slow process, so I ended up getting me a nice electric sander in addition to the wood & screws. Other than that, I had pretty much all the tools. Took about 1.5 hours to smoothen out every little edge and surface. I ran my hand over pretty much the entire bench - inch-by-inch - to make sure that there are no sharp edges or splinters that'll hurt me or someone else tomorrow. It looks very smooth now.

Now 4 hours and $50 later, I have a kickass log lounge bench that can easily seat 3 people comfortably or one person VERY happily and proudly. Altogether, I spent about 10 hours outside today! I'm kinda tired from all the hard work and pretty hungry too. Also, looks like I might be going out with friends later tonight.

Tomorrow is my day of relaxation. And laundry.

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Paddle like your kayak's on fireThu, 16th Mar '06, 8:40 pm::

Today is a special evening for me. For the first time in my life, I've cooked a meal that I can't stop eating. I made some veggie biryani using my own recipe and it turned out so good I'm jealous of my own cooking skills. I got chick peas, green beans, green peas, jalapenos, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, onion, and garlic mixed in rice with lots of different spices, from cinnamon to Indian masalas. I'm glad I made enough to last me for two more days :)

Anyways, so OMG! Tuesday night kayaking camping trip was AWESOME!!! I don't remember ever having THAT much fun within such a short amount of time. I left from work at around 4:30pm on Tuesday and drove down to Univ. of South Florida in downtown St. Pete. Including me, there were 11 people (6 guys/ 5 girls) and the only one I knew was Mike. The folks at USF Marina already had the kayaks and camping gear loaded on to Mike's truck. Night before, I had my car packed for the camping - two sleeping bags, extra pair of clothes, lots of supplies, Pop Tarts, and Robitussin 151 ;-) We drove down to this point right above Fort De Soto, parked our vehicles, and unloaded the kayaks. We loaded the kayaks with camping stuff and pushed the kayaks into the ocean around sunset. And that was just the beginning of the good times.

It got dark in a matter of minutes and behind us we saw the full moon rising up in the sky, almost yellow like turmeric. The water was pretty shallow and pretty calm. Imagine being in the middle of nowhere, pitch dark, save for the glow of the moon, leaving behind a trail of wispy moonbeams in your wake, as you gently paddle towards invisible shores. And then getting stuck in a sandbar! OUCH! Pretty much all of us hit the sandbars about 1.5 miles into the ocean. We got out of our kayaks and dragged them for well over a hundred yards till the water was 18 inches deep again. If you want to feel the pain, try dragging your sofa from one corner of the room to the other. Now do it a hundred times over, in darkness, in the middle of the ocean, with seaweeds wrapping around your legs, uphill, both ways. Yeah.

So we finally got to the island and man was I tired. Two miles is a far enough distance to row in itself, let alone on a weeknight when you worked all day, had almost no sleep the night before due to the excitement from the anticipation of the trip, and had no clue where you were going. Once on the shore, we unpacked, set up the tents, and Mike lit a bonfire :) Pretty soon there were smores, burnt Pop Tarts, and lots of spirits going around. I tell you, ten shots of 151 can really hit you like a rock. I've forgotten more crazy things I've done after inebriating myself than most people can even remember doing. Next up, were dirty camp-fire games. Let's say I was cow, some girl was TT, Mike was ex, some other girl was [censored], this cool guy Chris was sloppy, and more [censored] [censored] [censored]. A few more games later we sat around the fire just talking and doing stupid stuff. I think I kinda remember pushing Mike and some girl (?) into the ocean and thereby drenching myself completely (no wonder I woke up next morning missing my t-shirt.) I sat by the fire discussing random stuff with Chris and a few others then went into my tent, which I had to share with some cute girl whose name I can't remember and who kept kicking me allllll night.

Well not all night because I'd only been asleep for four hours when I heard the bastardly spawns of Satan circling over our tents. Apparently the birds on the beach love food and will shriek noisily till they scavenge off every last little morsel of leftovers strewed about on the beach by drunk kids the night before. Basically, I couldn't sleep anymore because they were too loud and it got too bright too soon. Oh yeah, the best part - a cold front moved in from the ocean at around 1am, so it got really cold really fast - cold and windy. Joy joy. We remained huddled in our tents till about 7am when I finally got out and started hunting for all my stuff missing from the night before - like my t-shirt and garden shovel (which by the way was very helpful for fishing out food from the fire, thank you very much Ms. Teresa.)

We packed the tents, loaded the kayaks up and sailed into the ocean, only this time, against winds gusting at over 30mph. The only thing on our side was light, so we could actually see where we were going. What took a mere 45mins the night before, took well over an hour because the wind kept turning around the kayaks as we (or at least I) paddled into it. One neat thing that Mike screamed at me from over in his kayak was that if I rode directly in the direction of the wind, it would turn my kayak around less. Makes sense too. Except I had to keep paddling 3x as more with my right hand; me being unsymmetrically lefty strength-wise. I got the workout I'd been needing for the past year and a half.

I had trouble believeing it but we actually made it to the shore, though a quarter of a mile away from where we parked our cars, as I didn't have the time nor the energy to kayak further. Mike and I went to get our cars, leaving Chris and Natalia in-charge of the kayaks with all our stuff on it. And like stupid boys usually do stupid things, Mike and I decided to sprint the last hundred or so yards up to the car, on wild grass, barefoot. It was only later in the day that we both independently noticed the damage done to our soles. Anyways, loading the kayaks up was another chore and we had to drive down to Fort De Soto to pick up camping stuff from another guy with us who kayaked to a different beach. Finally, Teresa, Zach, and I were on the way back to civilization!

I dropped them off at USF, cleaned up and changed there, spotted Mike on the road, and drove up to my work. Yeah, what did you think? I was gonna take a day off? Hell no! Real men do ALL of the above after eight straight hours of work and then get back to another eight straight hours of finger-breaking manual labor of pushing buttons, on an empty stomach no less. Oddly enough, since I wasn't tired mentally despite being dead physically, I actually managed to complete the final section of a new system I was building at work. I had been toiling away at this one piece of programming puzzle for well over three and a half days because no matter what I tried, I couldn't come up with a simple and easy way to show what I wanted. Turns out ten-shots of 151 later, I think like Buddha.

In the book of my life, this trip is definitely under the "Painfully Fun" chapter. I lost 2lbs in one night and feel so much more back in shape. My muscles hurt, my upper-body feels raw, and I've never felt this optimistic about finally acquiring some chiseled abs. Oh yeah, that was my New Year's resolution - gotta get me some abs! I do good things when I drink. That night I was sitting in some shady parking lot downtown with Tay, Kaela, and friends, gulping Champagne from a plastic cup. We asked each other what our NY resolutions were. Everyone said something deep and meaningful like "I want to see the world" or "I want to be more spontaneous," whereas I said "Abs! I want abs. This year, before December 31. I need some of those abs everyone's showing off." Everyone laughed and said "Ha! Good goal. Best of luck."

I've lost 11lbs since then, mostly from my spare-tire. My goal is to lose the tire entirely by end of June. Then come six months of freestyle exercises of all sorts - my revolutionary workout system: SH Ovelling, ab workouts, kayaking, and probably swimming. As long as I can spend 5-6 hours a week outside, I think I'll be good. Oh I know, too many plans, not enough time and energy.

I have a lot of time though, mostly past sundown. Those I spend relaxing around the house, torturing my evil kids, cooking up yummy biryani dishes. And with that I conclude this unnecessarily lengthy prattle of nothingness that pours heaps of salty drivel atop the sweet Chocolate Souffle of scintillating knowledge that is the Internet.

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Mon, 13th Mar '06, 11:30 pm::

Had dinner with Mike, Lanie, and Becca at Mangia in St. Pete Beach. The veggie lasagna was so delicious. Then went to see Lanie's new place in Gulfport and watched Real Genius with some ice cream. Good times. Oh and tomorrow's gonna be even more awesome. We're going overnight camping/kayaking! I'm so excited. I'll post the details after the trip. Hopefully I won't miss even one hour of work since it's a night trip.

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Sun, 12th Mar '06, 4:00 pm::

Oh man soooo tired right now. Kayaking was FUN! First Mike took out a power rescue boat and we sailed into the middle of Tampa Bay at full throttle. Then we idled our way into a small salt-water creek and had lunch at Fish Tales. It's kinda fun going to a restaurant in a boat instead of a car. After lunch, Lanie and I got into solo kayaks and rowed our way back into the same creek and went as far inland as we could go. We even rowed along the Dali Museum. It was just so beautiful it's hard for me to put it into words. I need to do this more often. And it's so relaxing and easy too. And yes, it is very safe. I wore life-vests and the water was barely 5ft deep in most places. I can't wait to do more of this stuff again. What makes me sad is that Mike's leaving for Oregon in two weeks :( So we're gonna go kayaking/sailing etc. as much as we can in the next fortnight.

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Sun, 12th Mar '06, 8:50 am::

Happy B'day Vishal! I'm pretty sure I called him last night all wasted and don't remember much other than the shouting and Lanie saying something too... Hmm. So, this weekend's been great so far. Friday night Liz, Dave, Vance, and Rodrick came over. We watched Monty Python's The Meaning of Life and just chilled. Early Saturday morning, Liz and I went to Perkins for some good ol' hearty American breakfast. We picked up Vance from the Super WalMart parking lot and drove up to Plant City for the Florida Strawberry Festival. It's basically a big fair with rides, games, food, and music.

Instead of $9 entrance fees, we all donated blood and got in for free. I donate blood normally anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. I'm just one more donation away from becoming a Gallon Donor! That's 3.78 liters! Now once inside the fair, we started going on different rides. After getting on what was quite possibly the scariest ride of my life, I ended up drinking a LOT of root beer and got a mad sugar rush. I got home around 3pm and passed out till about 7pm.

Mike called me around 8pm and said he's coming over. He brought over his computer so I could install a bigger hard drive on it. Meanwhile Lanie called and we told her to get some food on her way to my house. An hour later, we were baking veggie pizza and making iced-drinks in my kitchen. While consuming lots of yummy drinks, we watched what's quite possibly the most messed up math movie ever, Pi - story of a paranoid mathematician who sees patterns in the world, is chased by stockbrokers and religious leaders, and ends up resorting to Trepanation by drilling a hole in his head. Yeah.

I woke up early this morning and Mike & Lanie left a little while ago. I just mentioned to my friend that after donating blood, getting into crazy rides, imbibing lots of sugar, followed by copious amounts of liquor, "I think there's some blood in my alcohol stream." Good times. Now, I rest for a little while before I hope to go Kayaking with Mike & Lanie.

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Fri, 10th Mar '06, 12:45 am::

This one's for you Tay. Took it outside a restaurant in Kolkata, India in January - proof that I didn't make the phrase up :)

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Mon, 6th Mar '06, 7:15 pm::

Last night I saw ColdPlay in concert with Lanie & Mike. It was absolutely the best concert I've ever seen... now if only I could have heard it too! Turns out the Ford Amphitheatre folks in Tampa were sued for noise violation by neighboring homeowners' associations and as a result, had to turn down the volume on all events. Worse yet, they turned off all the speakers in the external lawn area. My friends and I had tickets to the lawn, because it's much nicer to relax and chill there instead of sitting in plastic seats at a music concert. And the tickets were slightly cheaper too. But despite all our excitement, it's hard to rock when you can barely hear the music. Nevertheless, we stayed on to watched Fiona Apple & ColdPlay and enjoyed as much as we could. After that we drove to downtown St. Pete and chilled at a bar. Then I suggested the best 24/7 diner for some past-midnight breakfast - The St. Pete Diner on Route 19. The food was sooooo good that we pretty much forgot how much the concert sucked.

I know for fact that ColdPlay were good, especially Chris Martin - the lead singer. It just looked so awesome, but since there were no speakers, it pretty much sucked to be in the lawn - there were over 3,000 people in the lawn area! Oh well. Time for dinner.

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