Project 365

In my ongoing quest to keep myself busy, I've decided to tackle a new project: Project 365. The premise is fairly simple. You take one picture each day for a year and post it in a blog or photo album where others can see it. At the end of the 365 days, you'll have a pictorial record of the year and hopefully have improved your photography skills in the process. Most people start on January 1, but I'm going to begin tomorrow, April 1 (this is no April Fool's joke, I promise).

You can find my Project 365 blog at There's nothing there yet, but there should be something there by this time tomorrow.

Wet & Wild Weekend

As another rainstorm moved into New England this morning, I realized that I hadn't posted anything about the weekend Paul came to visit me two weeks ago. As the title suggests, it was a weekend of rain, rain, and more rain. It literally poured nonstop from Saturday morning through Monday evening. Luckily, the sun did come out on Tuesday, Paul's last day here. Here are a few highlights from the weekend.

On Saturday, Paul and I drove down to New Haven, CT, to see the Yale campus and eat at Louis' Lunch, the first place to ever serve hamburgers. We couldn't see much of Yale through the rain, of course, but we did manage to look around the campus bookstore and take a few photos. Louis' Lunch was an interesting experience. The place is tiny, but people were packed inside, waiting for their broiled hamburgers. We had to wait almost an hour to receive our food, but we both thought it was worth it. I did wish that I had ordered cheese or mayonnaise with mine because it was a little dry. We ended our time in New Haven by looking around IKEA and then drove back home.

The next day Paul and I went to church in the morning and then drove to South Boston to visit the JFK Presidential Library & Museum. Mom, Dad and I had visited it this past summer, but it was great to see it again (especially because it was dry inside). We spent a couple of hours there and then drove out to Brown Sugar, my favorite restaurant in Boston. (When I lived on Park Drive in Boston, the restaurant was right across from my apartment. I probably ordered out from it every other week. That branch is now closed, but I love going to the one on Commonwealth Ave.) We were lucky to find a parking spot nearby, even though we still got soaked walking to and from the restaurant. At least the food — Thai Fried Rice — was worth it.

On Monday we had planned to go into Cambridge to visit some of the museums at Harvard. However, we both decided we were tired of getting out in the rain, so we played a game of Scrabble in the morning and then went to see Avatar in the afternoon. That night we had roast and mashed potatoes, prepared by Paul, who is a most excellent cook.

The sun finally came out on Tuesday, even though it was still a little cool. Since Paul's plane left around 1 in the afternoon, we took the commuter rail into Boston and looked around the Quincy Market/Aquarium area. We then walked over to the North End and ate an early lunch. Since we were over there, we stopped at Mike's Pastry to pick up cannoli — yum! Then we were off to the airport to say our goodbyes.

Even though it rained almost the entire time, we both had a good time. It was nice being together just the two of us (and Sammy, of course).

$10 a Day

A few days ago I ran across this article in the Washington Post. The article focuses on Reed Sandridge, a Washington, D.C., businessman who was laid off from his job about a year ago. Inspired by his late mother, who had told him "when you're going through tough times, that's when you most need to give back," he began his "Year of Giving." Each day Sandridge gives one person $10 and talks with each about his or her background and what he or she plans to do with the money. He then records all of these stories in his blog.

This article really touched me and made me think about what I could do to give back now that I no longer am working. I definitely can't give people $10 each day (I'd be broke within a few months), but I am looking for opportunities to give back some of my time. It's inspiring to think that someone going through such a discouraging situation can turn it into something so positive and proactive. I'd like to think that the next few months could be that way for me.

I haven't yet decided what I would like to do, but I have begun looking for volunteer opportunities near me. Hopefully I can turn this time of loss into a season of "cheerful giving."

American Cup

Last Saturday I drove out to Worcester (Woo-stah or Wi-stah if you're local) to attend the American Cup, an international gymnastics competition held each year. I've watched the competition on TV for years, but this was my first time to go to it live. It was an easy drive out to Worcester and a beautiful day as temperatures climbed into the 50s. I didn't even have to wear a jacket. If only all spring days could be like this . . .

The competition included both the men's and women's all around. I realized a few days before that I knew very little about any of the competitors besides Rebecca Bross, Jonathan Horton, and Fabian Hamb├╝chen of Germany. However, it was still exciting to see world-class gymnasts performing right in front of me. The men's events were especially impressive since I had never seen them before. I was in awe as they performed on the still rings and pommel horse. Those guys have to be the strongest athletes per ounce — I can't imagine a football player being able to do some of the things gymnasts can do. It was nice to see Rebecca Bross win with Alexandra Raisman of Needham, MA, finishing second. Maxim Devyatovsky of Russia (with his New Kids on the Block ponytail) won the men's title.

I had only one big issue with the event: lots of screaming little girls. Pardon me as I step up on my soap box. I appreciate that USA Gymnastics is trying to bring in young fans and get them excited about attending gymnastics events. I think they do a great job with that and believe that U.S. Figure Skating could learn a lot from what they are doing. However, these girls need to understand that it is not appropriate to scream for another person (JOHNNY!) while a gymnast is performing. (And the mothers need to stop egging them on and teaching them how to scream louder. You learn manners at home!) It's perfectly fine to scream during the short breaks between events or when the crowd is doing the wave (even if I still will exercise my right to cover my ears). Just please respect these athletes who are doing amazing things and could hurt themselves if they lose concentration. And please respect the other spectators who also paid to enjoy the event. Stepping off soap box now.

The competition ended around 3 p.m. so I drove over to the shopping center in Millbury. I ate a late lunch/early dinner at T.G.I. Friday's and then looked around a few of the stores. I headed home soon after that. I'm so excited for the warmer weather and longer days; hopefully I'll be able to get out on day trips a little more now.