Keeping us safe from terrorist sunglasses

I’d like to thank Continental Airlines for playing an important part in the fight against terrorism. Thanks to whoever examined my bag at Newark Liberty International Airport Saturday, the world is a safer place.

Apparently, my GPS caught the attention of this faithful soldier. Because, you know, the GPS is such a newfangled device, and no one would ever think to actually travel with one. I mean, what’s next? Some sort of thingamajig that actually plays music without using a cassette tape?

So my bag was pulled for further inspection and never made it onto my flight, which I discovered after 20 minutes of scanning the baggage conveyor belt, only to see a bag in a bin marked, “LAST BAG.”

Fine, better safe than sorry: I can see how a GPS going through an X-ray machine might arouse some suspicion. However, Continental’s superhero-like efforts didn’t stop there.

My bag was supposed to be on a later plane Saturday, and then delivered to my hotel. But the courier used by the airline is apparently also a vital part of the anti-terrorism forces. They were so careful to ensure the integrity of my luggage that it took 16 hours to deliver one bag from an airport located 20 minutes away. I guess they wanted to make sure my duffel bag wasn’t trying to incite other luggage into starting a jihad.

And when my bag finally arrived, all my clothes were present, as was my GPS and its power cord. But my Oakley sunglasses and their metal case were nowhere to be found. I suppose you can call them a casualty in the war against terror, but that would be disrespectful to those who are actually putting their lives on the line in the real war against terror. So let’s call my Oakleys what they really are: STOLEN.

Taking 16 hours to deliver a bag 20 minutes away, and then helping yourself to my sunglasses? I don’t know if an employee of Continental or the courier is now shielding his or her eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays on my dime, but I present two raised middle fingers to whoever the thief might be. And those were my favorite sunglasses, too. Bastards.

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Spending dead presidents to see dead presidents

Other than Hawaii, which is an optimal place to spend any weekend, what better place to spend President’s Day weekend than our nation’s capital? At least that’s what my girlfriend and I thought, so we drove down Saturday morning and had a great time.

A few observations:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: What an emotionally draining experience. I can honestly say I learned more here than I have in a single day in a long time, but after nearly four hours, I was sapped.

The curators did an absolutely fantastic job with this place. Everything is so thorough, and some of the genuine articles they were able to preserve and borrow from other collections are unbelievable.

One thing I didn’t expect (and hadn’t really read much about in the past) was the fact that the U.S. government basically got taken to task for knowing what was going on in Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s and doing absolutely nothing about it. I expected a museum located a short walk from the White House and the Capitol to sugar-coat things a little, and I’m impressed that this wasn’t the case.

Another thing I noticed: There were several kids in the museum who, in my opinion, were way too young to deal with some of the really graphic stuff. I think taking anyone under 12 to the museum is pushing it. I’m a firm believer that this generation and future generations should know what happened, but I also don’t think an eight-year-old should see some of the things that are displayed.

The DuPont Circle area: I’m a drinker, not a planner. Fortunately, I’m dating a planner. All of the logistics this past weekend could not have possibly worked out better, so I wanted to plug a few of the places we visited.

The DuPont Circle area in general is a great place to stay if you’re visiting D.C. There is a healthy supply of bars and restaurants within walking distance, along with a Metro station (more on that below).

We stayed at the Hotel Madera. It was a beautiful older building, with a lot of character, and everything about the stay was pleasant. There were some neat little touches, like a wine hour from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. and a bowl of Oreos to greet guests returning home from the bars.

We also had some damn good meals. Our first lunch destination was Circa, where I had the best salad I’ve had in years. The place was busy and obviously popular, and it had a great beer and wine selection.

While wandering around the area and looking for dinner, we tripped across Raku, which describes itself as an Asian diner. We ordered two completely different meals — a noodle dish and sushi — and both were excellent. We had some fun, inexpensive cocktails, as well, including one concoction that was a mix of sake and plum wine.

A must for brunch, despite the long wait, was Afterwords Café, part of a bookstore called Kramerbooks. It was well worth the wait. The brunch menu was huge, our food was outstanding and, much like Circa, Afterwords also had an impressive wine and beer selection.

Beer: Speaking of beer, I’m sure anyone who knows me is far from shocked that this is a topic. I had several great beer experiences in our nation’s capital. Two Irish pubs in the DuPont Circle area — James Hoban’s and Biddy Mulligan’s, which is actually part of an Irish hotel called Jury’s — poured two of the best pints of Guinness I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. And we had dinner at Capitol City Brewing, where the excellent food was complemented by Prohibition Porter and Nut Brown Ale, both absolutely delicious.

The Metro: Every time I ride the Washington version of the subway, I wonder what New York did wrong. Obviously, D.C. had the advantage of building its system well after New York did, but everything is so clean, spacious, well-lit and efficient. I’m jealous.

By the way, if anyone would like to buy a fare card with $1.90 remaining, let me know. I might even let it go for $1.50.

Zeke’s Roadhouse

(Originally posted on my MySpace blog Sept. 21, 2007) 

I have found Heaven, and its name is Zeke’s Roadhouse.

I was in Miami last weekend with a few friends, visiting two good friends of mine from college and attending the Cowboys-Dolphins game (Cowboys 37, Dolphins 20, HOLLA!). Paradise is located on Lincoln Road in Miami, near South Beach.

Zeke’s Roadhouse has several refrigerators stocked with bottles of hard-to-find microbrewed and imported beer, with every single bottle selling for the princely sum of $3.

Plus, if you’re fortunate enough to secure an outdoor table, the people-watching on Lincoln Road is just unbelievable.

I don’t even know how to start describing all the beautiful women who walked by during the two hours or so that we spent there. Between the Amazon-like six footers who were sizzling hot, the mothers who looked like they started doing one-armed pushups seconds after childbirth and the good, old-fashioned, just plain beautiful women – I mean, wow!

If I lived in the Miami area, Zeke’s Roadhouse would be on my agenda a minimum of twice every week. Period. I wish one would open in Hoboken, instead of another bank, nail salon or Chinese restaurant.

I peed in four states Monday

(Originally posted on my MySpace blog Sept. 21, 2007) 

I set a personal record Monday in the category of urinating in the most states during a 24-hour period: four.

And I’m very proud of myself!

At the conclusion of a fantastic trip to Miami (more on that in another blog, if I can get to it today), urinal No. 1 was in the airport in Fort Lauderdale. A friend who files for Continental was nice enough to secure buddy passes for my buddy and I, so we flew dirt-cheap, but we flew standby (definitely worth the savings). However, the Fort Lauderdale-Newark pipeline was a crowded one that day, and we were scrambling to get home, which brings us to urinal No. 2.

Urinal No. 2 was in the airport in Cleveland. With the help of some very informative folks behind the Continental counter in Fort Lauderdale, it was determined that we’d have a better shot of getting home by taking a less-crowded flight to Cleveland, then getting on an equally less-crowded flight to Newark. So during our momentous 45-minute stay at the Cleveland airport, when in Cleveland, do as the Clevelanders do.

Urinal No. 3 was at Newark Liberty International Airport, just prior to scrambling for a taxi to get back to Hoboken and near the completion of our journey.

And urinal No. 4 was at Madison Square Garden, during the intermission of a damn good show by Rush, which was the primary reason for all of the scrambling that took place earlier in the day. Other than having a very unfortunate seat location – the view of the stage was great, but we were in the first row above an entrance, so there was no leg room whatsoever – it was a great concert, and I’m stunned that we made it.

And for the record, I have no intentions of trying to break this four-state pee record anytime soon.