Weekend of July 2nd Whew, long weekend, woop woop! Friday - Friday at work was a fairly productive day, and was finished just quickly enough for me to not get bored, for once. The ride home was relaxing, and dinner was spent slowly, just catching up on some rest and relaxation. I played the relaxing card until about 10:00, and then headed over to the party at my buddy T's place. The party was mid-key; a good number of people were there, some of whom I knew but many I'd never met before. A few cute girls and cool guys, but a scarily large "bro and slut" population, which made actual conversation and fun a bit difficult. The night boiled down to making up crazy drinks, playing a good amount of beer pong, and playing with fireworks in a much to confined space... not the greatest idea, but definitely a fun one. We did sneak across the street onto an old soccer field to launch the bigger fireworks though, so... I guess we're kind of smart. After coming back from the fireworks nearly everyone had left the party, so us few remaining partiers hung out for a bit, and then bunked down on random couches for the night. Saturday - I woke up a bit earlier than everyone else, so I grabbed a quick drink of water, showered, and hung out listening to music until everyone else finished their own morning routines. It took a little while, but once we were all mobile we headed out to grab some quick breakfast at the ultimate grease-pit; Brigham Circle Cafe. I had my full "pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage" breakfast, which I somehow managed to finish, and then we all went our seprate ways for the rest of the weekend. I headed home to play some video games for a bit before showering, gearing up, giving the bike a quick tune-up, and then hitting the road for the 15 mile bike over to Allison's folks house. The beginning of the ride was quite rough, mostly thanks to the insane number of hills between our places. But at about the 10 mile marker I started feeling really good; I'm pretty sure thats when I broke the "runners wall" thing everyone talks about... Good info for people looking into long- distance biking: just keep at it, and after a bit of time you'll hit your stride, and be able to keep trucking like theres no tomorrow. I almost didn't want to stop when I did get to her house, only since I was feeling so good, but the lure of Allison and her pool proved stronger than the lure of the open road, so I parked the bike and put on swim trunks. Her pool was the amazingly perfect temperature, her bathing suit was just small enough, and the hotdogs that we cooked on the grill we just torched enough to make the afternoon one of the best in recent memory... the perfect combination of physical exhaustion from biking / swimming, good food, and good company made for a nice haze of happiness that lasted all night. For real dinner (hot dogs = appetizer) we made up tacos, and after eating we cuddled down to watch a movie called Love and Other Drugs. I'll admit I'm still torn about it; on one hand it had Anne Hathaway being hot, but on the other hand it was a sappy love story full of indecisive whiney people. I think what tipped it to the good side of the spectrum was how awesome the rest of the day had been; nothing could bring it down at this point :P After the movie we relaxed a bit more, listened to some music, and headed to bed around midnight thirty... sleeping slightly awkwardly in Allison's old highschool bed. Sunday - I woke up with that momentary confusion that comes with sleeping in a new bed. Feeling Allison next to me reminded me where I was, and the morning sun reminded me what time it was. We slowly got up, and started into the morning routine of showering and breakfasting. Allison had picked up the materials for pancakes the morning before, so between us we cooked up a set of strawberry pancakes; quite possibly the best I'd had since visiting my dad in Arizona. We hung out in the dining room for a while, then got ourselves motivated for some unpacking and cleaning up Allison's gear from her dorm. It actually didn't take us long to get all of the boxes from Allison's dorm packed away and cleaned up, and so we spent most of the morning relaxing around the house and in the pool. The morning went by amazingly fast, and once we were finished cleaning up and swimming we tossed all my stuff into her car and headed out to visit my folks in Medway. Since they were planning on being in Canada visiting relatives for my birthday we were doing my Birthday dinner this weekend... a bit early, but definitely fun. My "with the family" birthday took the form of some light gaming in the afternoon, an excellent dinner afterwards, and watching a quick BBC series before crashing in Medway. Allison had to leave before dinner, but was able to stay long enough to play a few rounds of "Siege of the Citadel", an old-school Mutant-Chronicles RPG/War-game/ table-top game that my stepdad had found at a yardsale. Turns out the games quite a rarity, and usually goes for ~$150 on Ebay... he found it for $5. Nice. Allison actually took the to the game quite quickly, and we all had a really good time for as long as she could stay. She did have to head out right before dinner though, so the steak-tips and ribs and cornbread were all for us to chow down on. After dinner was a perfect relax-night, focused mostly on chilling out, and watching an episode of a new BBC series based on the Sherlock Holmes series of books... I'm not sure why there are so many remakes of that series recently, but I am definitely a fan . Either way, after the episode was over I headed upstairs to my old room, and hit the hay early in preparation for the big day tomorrow... the 4th of July! Side-note: I got a dangerous present with my birthday dinner... a started Warhammer 40K army. It may seem like a very thoughtful gift, and indeed it was (a unique army tailored to what I had mentioned I'd love to play), but dangerous because now I'm constantly on the lookout for more miniatures and troops for my forces. And their not cheap. BUT, on the plus side, Steve had hand-painted all of the figurines that he gave to me, and they were done AMAZINGLY... I'll have to post a few pictures later on once I have a few minutes... Monday - "where am I, and why am I waking up in this bed" hit me again, that short-lived sense of confusion as to why I'm waking up in a strange bed. It left quicker than the previous morning though, since I had actually spent a significant amount of time in this room before, though not in too recent memory. I threw on some clothes and headed downstairs for a quick breakfast with my Mom and Steve (consisting of reheated cornbread... amazing!), and then said my goodbyes before clearing the bike for the ride home. I was debating stopping by Allisons place during the ride, since it was right about the half-way point, but by the time I finished the 13miles to her folks place I was feeling amazing, and had no intention of giving up that feeling just yet... so I pressed onwards until I arrived at my place; sweaty, exhausted, and completely content with the ride. After I got in I took a quick break, and then jumped into party-planner-mode; I had 15+ people showing up in about two hours, and needed the house to be at least semi-presentable. By the time everyone arrived I had cleaned and prepped and organized like a mofo; the house looked excellent and all of the ingredients for a good cookout were ready. People started trickling in right on time, though it took almost an hour and a half for the bulk of the people to arrive. Once they did, we chilled for a bit and started into the first round of burgers. See... I don't know the "normal" way to cook burgers, but I definitely have my own way that I've stuck with for the last few years. See, you heat the grill up to full, sear one side of the patty, flip, apply BBQ sauce, let cook, flip, apply BBQ sauce, let cook about 50%, apply cheese, let melt, then serve on a toasted bun. That... didn't exactly happen on the first round... lets just say that I severely underestimated this grills "flare-up" capacity, and I INCINERATED four buns before I threw in the towel and pulled everything off, saying that they were done. They were definitely done, but a bit closer to rare than I'd like... meh. least they weren't on fire anymore, right? While I was working on the first round of burgers everyone had decided to play full patriots and put on the ultimate July 4th movie; Independance Day. Fastest way for a president to gain my respect? Try to shoot down a damned alien mothership. Yeah... that'll do it. But the movie was forgotten as soon as the burgers were plated, and everyone chowed down, ignoring the fact that some of the burgers were a bit charred, and the praise flew around like wildfire. Always a nice ego boost for ones food to be enjoyed :) After the burgers were all served out and dressed up (cheese, onions, BBQ sauce, etc...) we headed back in to watch the rest of the movie, relax, and just chat about life and the world in general. After a little while I ran a second round of burgers, making sure to turn the burners down a bit ahead of time to fight the flare-ups (it worked perfectly) and was actually able to toast some buns and apply cheese ahead of time with this set of burgers. We ate round 2 and finished the movie, and then headed outside to relax, digest, and play a few lawn games that old roommates had left behind; primarily one game that I like to call "hit the bottle off the pole". Yeah... I'm not creative with names. "Hit the bottle off the pole" is a pretty simple game where each time has a pole, with a bottle balanced on top of it. The aim is to throw another bottle and knock your opponents bottle off their pole - either by hitting the bottle, or hitting the pole hard enough to knock the bottle off. As dumb as the game sounds, we had a lot of fun, helped partially because I had my buddy Mike on my team, who used to be a pitcher. The game did get a bit boring after a few rounds of 10 (2 points for hitting the bottle, 1 for the pole), so after a few back and forths about what to do we all packed the beers into a backpack and headed down to the Charles River to watch the fireworks. Waiting for the busses was one of the worst experiences I've had with the MBTA... mostly made worse by stupid iPhone Apps that track busses. See... they track busses, but not all of them, and not 100% accurately during major events. We were passed by three "stealth" busses while we waited, busses not broadcasting their GPS signal, not full, but not stopping for us either. I debated jumping onto one when it slowed down at the lights up the street, but was thankfully talked out of that idea before I could do something too stupid. But thanks to infinite patience and good conversation we were able to somehow survive the 30+ min wait and caught the bus to Kenmore station, finally arriving to meet my friend Emma who had biked over and had been sitting and waiting since the ice age, give or take (stupid busses). We followed the crowd to Storrough Drive, and started strolling down the closed street. I was trying to recognise the spot that I had sat last year... I had met a really cool girl from Nicaragua and we had hung out directly across from the fireworks barge before heading back to my place, and I wanted to find that perfect spot again. After a while we found something that looked like what I remembered, and Dillon's phone GPS agreed with my hope that we were directly across from the barge. So we sat down, Allison and I cuddled up, the guys and I broke out the beers, and we waiting for the show to begin. Every town does fireworks. Some just have tiny shows while others seem to spend their entire annual budget on trying to show off how much explosives they can buy. Believe me when I say that they pale in comparison to Bostons show... this was an epic 40+ minute series of sky-explosions, seemingly trying to recreate the flak-fire over England in the battle of Britain. We sat slack-jawed as they exploded into sub-munitions that then exploded into more little explosions, fireworks that looked like cubes after they went off, smiley-faces, and even some american-flag-style ones. Epic was the word of the night, but all too soon we were hit with the finale, which was a 2-3min set of "well... lets just launch EVERYTHING EVER MADE ALL AT ONCE". The sky was exploding all around us, and then it was quiet... no noises except for a few cheers and the sound of people starting to get up and walk back to their cars. We debated taking a cab home, but in the end the bus was fast enough for me, and we jumped on the now-free ride and rolled on back to my place. Mike headed out right away, since it was already almost midnight, and so Allison and I hung out for a bit, showered, and then headed to slumber-land.