Archive for May, 2005

Ten of Eleven

May 31, 2005
I have spent the last three days alternating between sleep and geocaching! Since Saturday I attempted eleven caches, and found ten, including two multicaches and a few puzzle caches.

* Did you know that part of the Berlin Wall is here in Arlington?

* I found two foreign coins: a 100 Forint Hungarian coin from 1998, and a Moroccan 1 Dirhan coin (the sixth one down on the page).

* I saw three toads, a millipede, and a deer.

* I found a three-foot-long piece of snake skin!

* I met four other geocachers, too!

* My average time per cache was 90 minutes ( I like to stop and look at interesting things along the way).

I also heard some neat things on NPR, too. The Japanese used explosive balloons against the U.S. in WWII. Living cells make sounds that can be heard with amplification (yeast cells scream when you put them in acid)! The federal government regulates the measurements of Arlington Cemetary headstones to within 1/32nd of an inch.

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Downs and Ups

May 27, 2005
First the bad news

Rabbi Perlin will not officiate. She puts her foot down on direct application of halachic law. Unless I convert, we are an interfiath couple, and thus she will not perform the wedding.

This news could not have come at a worse time for Evelyn and I, as we had been in the middle of a two-day conversation about the role of religion in our lives, and were doing some deep soul searching. I had expressed the two parts of religion that interest me: philosophy and awe. And frankly, the Jewish sabbath services I have attended inspired neither in me. There are two other issues I have with Judaism. I find the religion to be over defensive. It has a hard time allowing other religions near it, and the very thought of a Jewish child encountering another faith is a fearsome concept. I wish Jews were less concerned about mixing in with the world, and more willing to share space with religious wanderers like me. The second issue I have is that the liturgy is steeped in the language of ancestry. The cultural identity is fused into the Jewish philosophy, and the Jewish faith is forever bonded to the Jewish ethnicity. When I hear "I am your God, who led you out of Egypt and out of bondage," I always think Speak for yourselves!

Perlin’s rejection left us shocked, and we were pretty melancholy for a few days. Soon we’ll start sending emails to other candidate Rabbis in the area, and start checking out some other local synagogues. And we really need to start getting a head count for guests!

Now for the good news,

I went to a Baltimore Orioles game on Wendesday, and it was amusing. It was a much more pleasant experience than the Yankees game I went to in ’03, due to the smaller scale and modest atmosphere of Baltimore’s franchise. The two most interesting things were the small plaques in the ground commemorating the landing spots of all balls that were hit out of the park, and Chris’s habit of speaking the players’ names backwards. One fan next to us started correcting our pronunciation. The Orioles triumphed over the Mariners 3-1, and the game was finished in less than two hours, which is a real rarity.

I enjoyed walking to work today, and hope to do so as long as the weather is decent. It’s only a 45 minute walk from my apartment, and it is nice and convenient even if it doesn’t really save any gas. It’s nice to not have to fight with traffic and parking. I feel carefree when I travel overland by foot.

—Ryan

I need a plan!

May 24, 2005
I’ve got two problems to deal with now.

The first challenge is where to stay during Evelyn’s graduation. I may be on Long Island for up to a week, and I don’t want to shell out $100+ per night to Howard Johnson’s. I have a few options:

– Option 1) Stay elsewhere on campus. Staying with Evelyn herself might not work well with her family around, especially Sharon and Mayer. I could use an empty room in the grad dorm, a vacated room in Steve-Taylor, or crash in the TV room or on a couch somewhere (not the best arrangement for a week’s stay). I might be able to move in with Jared or some other friend with room to spare.

– Option 2) Stay with one of Evelyn’s relatives. Aunts Sylvia and Selma aren’t hosting anyone yet, but Ellie and Florence are booked.

– Option 3) Pitch a tent in a state park somewhere on Long Island.

– Option 4) Bite the bullet and book a hotel room for a few nights.

It’s just one bridge I have to cross in the next month.

Another issue is where to keep my kayak once I haul it down to Virginia in June. It’s about 14 feet long, and three feet wide. I got numbers from self-storage facilities, and they are typically asking $200 a month! Eeep! There is no place to keep it at the office, since we only lease the building we are in and the parking garage needs all the space it can get. The kayak will not fit in my apartment, since it will not fit in the stairwells or elevators. I cannot keep it on top of my car because I won’t be able to fit into the parking garage at work, not to mention the added cost of gasoline. I have a few options here too:

– Option 1) Discuss storage options with the Wildwood Park staff. They have storage spaces available, as well as in the bicycle room and the parking garage there. Maybe I can make a deal with them considering my unusual object.

– Option 2) Talk to canoe and kayak dealers in the area and attempt to arrange a storage deal with them, even if I only have access during business hours. REI is just a block away, and there are a few watersports shops along the Potomac and out in Fairfax county.

– Option 3) Find a kayaker at work and ask to ‘buddy up’ a storage arrangement with them.

– Option 4) If all else fails, I can haul the kayak back to Indiana and have Dad take care of it. When I have a place of my own, I can bring it back. I won’t get to use it for a few years, but it beats spending $2,500 a year just to keep it here. And I can always rent a kayak here in the meantime.

Those are the two bigger challenges facing me. I’m still trying to contact Rabbi Perlin from Temple B’Nai Shalom. She’s still our prime candidate for a wedding officiant, and I finally sent her an email tonight. Hopefully I’ll hear from her soon, so we can set up an appointment. Plan B is to talk to a Reconstructionist rabbi up in Bethesda.

I went to Webb this last weekend to see Evelyn’s play, ‘Meanwhile, Back on the Couch". It was a blast! Despite various setbacks this year, they managed to put together an energetic and hilarious show! It was great to see how Nathan has evolved as an actor, from the inept Barnes to the besieged Victor Karleen. He’s developed a sense for comic timing, and it shows. Emily was finally handed a part she can have fun with, as the snarky secretary. The set was right on the gym floor (my view a few rows back was mostly obscured by heads), and the lighting was rented. Luckily this year’s play didn’t ask much of the the lighting crew, but the stage and sound crews shined admirably. Even with Pat’s injury a few weeks ago (get well, Pat!), the Webb Players made their third production a hit! And yes, Evlelyn did a wonderful job with her small but critical role as Jingle Jabonsky!

Webb’s library had a book culling session, and I picked up a few worn hardbacks, mostly 1970s sci-fi. The best kind of sci-fi is free sci-fi. The gem of my rummaging was a biography of Marie Curie, the Doubleday hardback edition from 1937, which is part of the same set as my biography of Jack London. Score!

Gotta go,
—Ryan

News of the microcosm

May 15, 2005
Hi everyone!

The most exciting thing that has happened to me in the last few days was the vicious hailstorm I was caught in! I’m glad I stayed in the car to ride it out. But more on that later…

I had a fun game night on Wednesday, playing a few games of Cannibal Pygmies, which was fun. Chris enjoys the theme of the set, as he is an ethnologist, and playing CP with him is always amusing. Chris invited me to a Baltimore Orioles game two weeks from then, since he has an extra ticket.

My second Icehouse game, Juxtapose is posted, and Traction is ready for playtesting. Give ’em a try!

I went to synagogue on Friday, and they had a special service to honor the 57th anniversary of the Israeli Independance Day. There was historical tidbits interspersed among the prayers, and the vastly expanded youth and adult choirs got to perform. Since the local colleges have finished for the year, the congregation was full of young students, almost entirely women. The local population of single Jewish men must have been underrepresented, and a few of the girls tried to flirt with me (sorry gals, I’m taken!).

While I had my car’s oil changed on Saturday, I talked to my State Farm insurance rep. Between marriage and turning 25 years old, my car insurance premiums will go from $820 every six months, down to $460! And just in case, it would cost $26 per year to insure Evelyn’s engagement ring, with no deductibles. I’m not sure that that policy would cover, though.

After business was taken care of, I went off geocaching, and successfullly found 2.5 caches (half of a multi-cache). The weather started looking threateneing, with heavy grey clouds rolling in, and thunder roaring off in the distance. I aborted my cache hunt early, and headed back home. On the way I stopped and got a new air filter for my car, at the recommendation of my mechanic (doing it myself saved $20). I was sitting in my car in the parking lot with my new purcheses….

..and that’s when the hail came down! Judging by the pieces that stuck to my car windows, it was about the size of gravel, or maybe sugar cubes. It pelted my car with a relentless clatter, like stones flung by the tires of a truck on the highway. I was worried that my vehicle’s glass would not endure the beating! Thirty more seconds in the auto parts store, and I would have been caught bodily in the hail! Twenty minutes went by before the hail relented enough that I could drive home. By the time I traveled that half-mile, the worst was over, and the storm had been reduced to a mild rain.

Today was a day for me to catch up on little things. I needed food, changed the air filter in my car (the new filter was made in Israel), and vacuumed my apartment (which needed it badly).

Evelyn and I talked about wedding ideas, and we realized that a bed and breakfast would be a good location for a reception, and maybe the ceremony itself. B&B’s usually have dedicated kitchens and waitstaff, so there would be a lot less worrying about catering. B&B’s are veterans at decorations for fancy affairs, so they would know some good dependable florists and photographers, and would have rooms for out-of-town guests to stay in. If it’s in our price range, this could be a good deal.

At the suggestion of Evelyn’s parents, I will talk with Rabbi Perlin ASAP!
—Ryan

It’s finally official!

May 10, 2005
Finally, after so much time spent in speculation and discussion, Evelyn and I are engaged!

I proposed to her on Saturday, around noon, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and gosh did I get a very enthusiastic answer! From the day I picked out her ring, I knew exactly where I wanted to ask the Big Question. In the Met, there is a room decorated in an 18th Century style, pale yellow walls, white trim and woodwork, a blazing gold chandalier hanging from the gilded ceiling, and a wall of tall windows. Once we found that room, and stood in the middle of it, I could feel that the moment was right. Holding both her hands in mine, I looked into her green eyes, and told her that the last two and a half years together have been very wonderful and happy. With a single gesture, I dropped down onto one knee, held the black velvet box up to her, and opened it.

And then, I got a reaction that I did not expect. Before I even knew the ring was out of the box, I was up on my feet being embraced in an eager hug! In a heartbeat she had taken the ring out of the box, slipped it on her finger, and wrapped her arms around me! It was all so fast, and I really wanted to put the ring on her myself, to take it all more slowly and dramatically. But apparantly Evelyn was a very enthusiastic girl who simply could not wait to be my fiancee!

For the rest of the museum trip, we walked through many of the galleries and exhibits, but Evelyn was watching her diamonds sparkle in the museum’s crisp lighting. I always enjoy the Met; it has become the benchmark by which I compare all other museums. What the Met does best is immersion. One does not simply look at art there; they experience it. The presentation, context and orientation of the artifacts and pieces all enhances the appreciation for it. I feel immersed in the history of the time period, like I’m a part of ancient Egypt, Renassiance Italy, Victorian London, feudal Spain, or post-war France. The Met is not just a museum; it is both a walking tour of the Earth’s cultures, and a time machine to 6,000 years of world history.

In the last two days, Evelyn and I (though mostly Evelyn), have been getting many ‘congrats’ and ‘mazel tov’s from all around us. We thank those who have expressed their earnest hopes and cheers for us, and celebrated our joy with us. There are many people we have heard from, and many more that we want to hear from. Thanks to all of those out there who have helped us come together as a couple (this means you, Kate!) and for those who have been our invisible fan club, wishing the best for us all along the way!

Where do we go from here? There are so many things we need to do between now and then. We will be very busy in the coming months, because we have a wedding to plan for! It feels like such an adventure!

The questions have already been pouring in….when? Where? How big? Am I invited? What kind of wedding dress does Evelyn want?

Don’t panic! Evelyn and I have been discussing our future wedding for the last year or so, and we’ve come up with many ideas, both of things we want to do, and things we want to avoid doing. For starters, we plan on holding the wedding here in Virginia, hopefully in February or March of 2006. We would like to focus the wedding on our families as much as we can. Family has been a major part of our lives so far, and we feel that family should be given the center of attention (besides the bride and groom, of course). Our wedding should have a balance of tradition and lighthearted fun, and we don’t want anyone to feel out of place treading water in a sea of tuxedos and pretty dresses. We’ve looked at many wedding planning guides and websites, and we’ve got ideas about things we’d like to do without, and things we could not do without.

There will be more time in the future to talk about details. The important part right now, in order to get things going at an early pace, is to get a head count of guests, starting with the families. Since Evelyn has six more weeks of Webb to finish up, we have decided that I will handle all the wedding business until she graduates in June. Please email me at deeplogic@excite.com for now, until Evelyn and I manage to set up a joint email account.

Thanks again to everyone for their congratulations, cheers, praises, mazel tovs, blessings and sincere wishes! Your well-wishing had been a warm welcome into our new official life together.
—Ryan

Since then….

May 6, 2005
First, a recap of my week so far…

Card night featured old classics: Give Me the Brain, Fluxx, and playtesting of Ferrball’s Mansion. Ian marked up my hard copy of the rules, with lots of suggestions how how to clarify the document. He saw lots of redundancies in it, and caught a few typos (oops). Will created a new character with a very high Fight stat, but a very slow Movement. He ended up raising it from Move=1 to 2, but limited his character to one attack per turn. Ian went nuts, creating a character that was hit with an old-school Mutate-o-matic every turn! Too bad he bowed out before he really got a chance to try it out. Both characters have been saved for future field testing. The other new cards and tweaks worked well, namely the Folding Chair and Garage Sale. We also had a classic face drop in, Amy! We haven’t seen her there in months! Amy, if you’re reading this, HI! and thanks for coming to join us at card night!

I caught Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Monday night. It was a delightfully strange film. The casting worked better than expected. Arthur Dent, Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin are right on the money, and Mos Def is actually NOT annoying as Ford. Who’da thunk it?!? The plot contains all the familiar gags and mayhem that Hitchhiker fans have come to love, and they even work in some new material sanctioned by Adams himself, so even the hardcore fanboys will get something new out of it. The visuals are memorable, but look a little on the aged side. Most of the aliens are animatronic puppets, and there is not as much CGI in this film as most others. All in all, they manage to cram an unfilmable novel into a quirky and fun two-hour cinema circus.

Kurt led me to a nice Chinese buffet in Annandale, but alas, no Mongolian Barbeque! Hey, it was still tasty, and I had my fill of MSG! Huzzah! I also helped Kurt clean out a small corner of the store. We unearthed all kinds of strange promo cards, CCGs long since dead, arms and legs and torsos for miniatures, and a very odd selection of dice with odd symbols on them. Weird stuff to be found……

I’m listening to Alan Parsons’s new CD, "A Valid Path". It’s the most electronic album he’s put together to date (Yes, even more than "I, Robot"). The beats are cluttered and gritty, with graceful synths flying in the background. I really dig the remixes of "The Raven" and "Mammagamma", as well as originals like "Return to Tunguska" and "L’arc en Ciel". Very different from Parsons’ other solo projects, but that’s why I like him; his style is always evolving and feels about two years ahead of the rest of the world, like pop music from the future.

And I finally got a haircut! I feel ten pounds lighter! Well, not to that degree. I exaggerate, but it feels better not having to brush hair off of my ears and forehead. Whew!

My geocaching adventures last Sunday were aborted. After finding one cache, I stumbled into a library book sale! I went in looking for a restroom, but I walked out with a crateful of books for $40, with the money going to a good cause. I picked up a a large set of Far Side cartoon books, more hardback Dave Barry, Clive Cussler, and many other gems of fiction, humor, and science. Now where to shelve them…?

I’ll try to write again, when I get back from New York. I’m visiting Evelyn for her birthday this weeked!
—Ryan

P.S.: Have you played Traction yet?