Review: East Side Restaurant, New Britain CT

Posted August 12th, 2010 by Rob

Last weekend I went to East Side restaurant in New Britain with some of my friends. For those who don’t know, East Side is a German restaurant who advertises extensively on billboards in the area. They’re well known for their beer, along with their atmosphere, and their German cuisine.

In the days leading up to our trip, Jim Malone and I were looking forward to getting “das boot”, a giant glass boot filled with 2 liters of beer. Perhaps ominously, on the restaurant’s website, there was no price given for “das boot”. I asked our waitress how much it cost, and she said $100 – $30 for the beer and $70 for the boot (which you had to keep)! A smaller 1 liter boot wasn’t much more affordable since you had to buy that boot at an inflated price too. So, we settled for regular 1-liter glasses that we didn’t have to keep, but still cost $15 each. The first beer I got was really good – dark, rich, chocolaty – and filling. My big mistake was ordering a second beer. I’m not sure why I did, since I was nearly drunk by the time I finished my first, but I did anyway. The next beer was also dark, but sweeter, fizzier, and not as good. It was a real chore to finish the second beer, since by that time food had also arrived. Malone was the only other person who drank 2 beers.

I’m not sure how authentic the food was since I’ve never been to Germany, but I came away pretty unimpressed with the food. First of all, there weren’t many price points. Specifically, all entree choices were either $28 or $29. I got two decent-sized pieces of pork tenderloin, which were highlighted on the menu as a “specialty”, but they were really plain and absolutely something that anyone could make at home. Simply two pieces of sliced pork loin, unseasoned, with gravy on them. They came with scalloped potatoes, which I remember as being very un-noteworthy. Each meal did come with a small salad, a cup of soup, and a slice of pie for dessert which were all good but I still would have preferred lower food prices. Maybe other people liked the food more, since I’m sure it’s possible the beer was clouding my judgment.

Besides the food and drink, East Side is a pretty fun place to be. Most of the waitresses were fairly attractive. There was also an accordion player (who I believe to be the best accordion player in Connecticut) going around from table to table, playing all kinds of classic and contemporary songs from lots of different genres. He played “Sweet Caroline” when he saw that I was wearing a Red Sox shirt. The wait staff chants “ticki-tocki ticki-tocki” or “das boot” whenever they deliver beers to anyone. Everyone at our table was issued various hats by our waitress, and she gave me by far the coolest hat – the viking. We were in the “main dining room”, indoors, which was fairly loud but very jolly. There is also an outdoor roof bier garden which might be fun to go to. It was Jim Perrotti’s birthday the next day, so we were able to score him some ice cream and a serenade from the wait staff.

Overall, I was not pleased with East Side. I give it 2 stars out of 5. The high prices, both on beer and food, were detractors in my opinion. The quality of the food was also another big negative for me. At the same time, it is a fun place – probably due in part to all the beer. So maybe if I ever go back, I’ll just get a beer or an appetizer.

EastSide

Mets vs. D-Backs at CitiField

Posted August 1st, 2010 by Rob

Yesterday we went to the New York Mets game. I went to Jim and Michelle’s house around 3pm, then Perrotti, Kohanski, and Laura arrived soon after and we left. The ride there was good until we reached the outskirts of the city, when the traffic got bad. Still, we arrived at the stadium at least an hour and a half before the game. We headed straight to center field where some of the best food stands are located. From my one previous trip to CitiField, I knew I had to get the fresh tacos again. Jim and Michelle also got the tacos. A 3-taco box is $10.50, but the tacos are pretty small at maybe 3 large bites each. The tacos come in freshly grilled steak, chicken, and slow-roasted pork and each features fresh vegetables and herbs, accompanied by mild and spicy salsas. The texture of the steak was great. The chicken was savory and spicy, and Jim and I agreed the chicken was the best of the three though the pork was also notable, with a sweet flavor. The small size of the tacos, combined with our extreme hunger, led us to buy still more food. Malone had had good experiences with the garlic fries ($9.75) so we split a box of those. These were disappointing. There was no fresh garlic, only dried herbs and garlic (and not enough of this) along with parmesan cheese. The amount of fries was ample, and the quality of the fries was good, but there was no garlic flavor and could have just as easily bought a $7.75 box of regular fries. Left unsatisfied, we headed to our seats.

We were seated high above the field, located between home and third. The seats weren’t bad, certainly better than the center field seats I had sit in before. The only problem was gauging the elevation of batted balls, because of the angle. After a little while, I went looking for more food, still hungry. I came up with a big dish of nachos ($7.75), with cheese sauce and two types of salsa. This dish finally took care of my hunger.

Some other highlights: Malone, Kohanski, and I did set up some propositional bets before the game, but the contest never really got off the ground. One of our bets was whether anyone would see a fan (besides Kohanski) wearing Lastings Milledge jersey. Milledge was a once highly-touted Mets prospect who never really succeeded in the major leagues, and is now a journeyman. He hasn’t been on the Mets for several years. Low and behold, literally as we were going through the turnstyles to get into the stadium, there it was: a short, ugly man wearing a faded black Milledge t-shirt. The drama gone for the night, though we didn’t spot any more. Hours later as we were walking back to the parking lot, a drunk guy shouted to Kohanski “Yo, what’s up with the Milledge shirt guy?”.

I also liked how the organ player before the game was playing popular songs from bands like Kings of Leon and Coldplay. Also, Kohanski brought some snacks, sandwiches, and drinks in a cooler to the game and was able to carry some into the stadium. But while he was able to bring several water bottles and some individually packaged servings of gourmet cheese into the stadium, he left Jim Perrotti’s sandwich in the cooler in the car, much to Perrotti’s displeasure.

Now as for the game itself. Since it was a National League baseball game, we were privileged enough to watch a few zero-out sacrifice bunts, advancing a baserunner from first to second base. Pretty much every position player in the American league can hit – there are very few Luis Castillos or Auguie Ojedas, and no pitchers hitting, so to me as an AL fan I feel a little cheated when I go to a game and see people getting bunted from first to second. But, I also see how people can respect this as part of the “real game”.

The game was pretty boring throughout, until late. During the early and middle innings, the Diamondacks had more baserunners, and seemed to leave quite a few men on base without capitalizing. The Mets struggled a little, and their bottom 5 or 6 hitters were completely useless for the first part of the game. My fantasy players did an amazing job: Hisanori Takahashi, my one-game pickup, pitched a Mets-season-high 10 strikeouts, only allowing 1 run in 6 innings, but couldn’t get the win. He did allow plenty of baserunners but was able to limit the damage. Reyes, Pagan, and Wright, the Mets top 3 hitters, were a combined 6-12 with 4 RBI and 3 Runs. By the bottom of the 9th, the game was tied 4-4 and looked to be heading to extra innings. The only other Met to record a hit was Feliciano’s leadoff triple in the bottom of the 9th inning. The D-Backs then got Reyes to fly out to shallow right, walked both Pagan and Wright intentionally, and set up Beltran’s “heroic” sacrifice fly for the Mets to win the game. A pretty exciting moment at CitiField.

Though I didn’t get home to Manchester until around 1:30, the game was still a good time. I wouldn’t want to do it on a weeknight but it was perfect for a weekend. The weather was ideal and even got pleasantly cool as the night wore on.

Catch-Up Post for Malone and Carigs

Posted July 13th, 2010 by Rob

Yesterday I went to the beach, and now my fair skin is absolutely ravaged by sunburn, stemming from uneven, non-comprehensive sunscreen application. I’ve got another beach trip coming up on Friday so I will have to be cautious. I’ll likely be already peeling by then. I’ll need to do a better job applying sunscreen, or I might even wear clothing while on the beach to protect my skin.

Of course, this morning George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, died. For better or worse he had an immense impact on the Yankees and on baseball a whole. My favorite two numbers from the Steinbrenner ownership era: he (and business partners) bought the Yankees in 1973 for under $10 million (not even a lot of money for back then) and he made 22 managerial changes. Also in baseball, David Ortiz won the home run derby last night. Superstars seem to avoid the derby these days, but winning it is still a pretty cool accomplishment for Ortiz so late in his career. His contract situation will become a major story as the season wears on – the Red Sox have a $12.5 million option for next season with no buyout but plenty of other things could happen with the contract – a cheaper multi-year extension with incentives that make it more valuable, declining the option, free agency, etc. I think they will agree to a 2 or 3-year extension but we’ll see.

The NCAA “first four” thing does sound like a pretty good idea. It lengthens the meat of the tournament, allowing for better coverage and exposure of each game, since the early rounds of the tournament have too many games for everyone to get to see everything. It also should be good for ratings, with major conference teams from across the country playing. I agree with Carigs that the TruTV deal is unfortunate though.

My iPhone 4 shipped to Hebron, and it arrived yesterday so I’ll probably pick it up and start playing with it today. My iPhone 3G is starting to show its age, it has a decent amount of scuffs and some cracks, so the time is right for an upgrade. I am kind of skeptical about being able to set up the phone myself from my computer, but hopefully it works and I won’t have to bring it to the AT&T store. I am really enjoying life with my iPad – except for the couple days when my wireless internet failed and the iPad turned into a $500 paperweight. I just keep my iPad on my couch and use it for casual web browsing, fantasy baseball, banking, bills, Facebook, etc. It has all the functionality of a regular laptop unless you want to play flash games or type a very long document (there is an external keyboard available). I keep my bulky laptops upstairs and seldom use them now – I wouldn’t need them at all if I didn’t have to use them for iTunes. The big screen makes web browsing and video watching very pleasurable compared to an iPhone. I think it crushes the Kindle as an e-reader, and the iBook store is even easier to navigate than iTunes and lets you read a lengthy excerpt of all books for free. I would recommend the iPad to anyone right now, and while I think the next version of the iPad will have a camera, I don’t think the price will be reduced.

On Red Dead Redemption: I just cleared the fort and “unlocked” Mexico, but I haven’t yet gone down there and explored though. It really does play a lot like the Grand Theft Auto series, games which I liked but wasn’t crazy about. You can carry about almost unlimited weapons and ammo. Unlike Fallout 3, there aren’t many items, buildings, or caves around the countryside, you can’t converse with very many people, and there are no stats/attributes that you build up over time. You will spend LOTS of time riding around on your horse. But the game is fun to play, and the auto-aim system makes combat easy for someone like me who isn’t a fast-twitch first-person-shooter enthusiast. Even though the game world isn’t as interactive as I’d prefer, the environment is beautiful and the characters you do interact with are memorable. My complaints about the game are primarily based on my own preferences – objectively I do think this is a “very good” or “excellent” game. Overall I would put this game ahead of the Grand Theft Auto series and Assassin’s Creed 1 (haven’t played 2) but behind Oblivion and Fallout 3. I also have FIFA 10 on the way, I’m looking forward to playing a soccer videogame for the first time. But I want to play real soccer, in real life, even more.

I think the Malone/Carigs fantasy baseball trade is kind of sad and not very meaningful. Malone is left with Figgins as his third baseman, and while he can only improve, you need to have a more productive third baseman than that. Malone does take care of his too-many-catchers problem, but let’s hope that he doesn’t over-value Posey as much as he overvalued Wieters for the past couple years. Using high draft picks and keeper slots on Wieters has hurt Malone. I think Glaus will turn out to be pretty useless but he could surprise me. Carigs adds some flexibility for the dregs of his roster but if he moves higher in the standings it won’t be due to this trade.

Return to Normalcy?

Posted July 9th, 2010 by Rob

So, plenty has happened since I last posted. The main highlight was the ceremony in Massachusetts when our unit was dismissed to go home. The police escort was probably 20 cruisers, some motorcycles, and the state police helicopter (the brother of someone in the unit is the pilot) and they met us halfway through CT and proceeded to close down route 91, then the Mass Pike so our buses didn’t have to deal with traffic. Then we got to the Ware, MA high school where all of the families were and after a very, very brief ceremony we were released. It was very special to see all of my family and especially my grandparents there.

I moved into my new condo, which is in great condition, and then the next day I bought a 2008 Cadillac CTS. I’m pretty sure it will be the nicest car I ever own. It might be more than I need but it is really nice so it doesn’t bother me. It has all of the options, like the extra long sunroof, touchscreen navigation, tinted windows, heated/cooled seats, keyless entry/remote start, leather, etc. It does barely fit into my garage, which is a good thing.

I’ve been taking care of a lot of other business too since I’ve been back, like setting up bill payments (there are so many), getting my veteran status on file with the town clerk, trying to figure out how to get the state of CT “Welcome Home Bonus” for soldiers returning from combat, scheduling a time to get my 2009 tax returns done, etc.

Now, as for sports. The Red Sox are definitely in need of the All Star break. They’ve used more unknown players this season than ever before due to their numerous injuries. Even as a fairly involved Red Sox fan, I’d never heard of some of them. Some have played well, others have not. Nava, Darnell McDonald, Eric Patterson, Doubront, Gustavo Molina, Ryan Shealy, and Niuman Romero (dreadful player) are some of the “highlights”. They even had to bring in ::gulp:: Kevin Cash because their top 4 catchers are down with injuries. The top 4 outfielders have been out of commission at various overlapping times during the season. Their star second baseman is out. One of their ace pitchers has been out for a while. All of this makes you wonder where the team would be if old David Ortiz wasn’t having a productive season. Hopefully with Beckett and others back after the All Star break they can return to normalcy. Kevin Youkilis should have made the All Star team over Swisher – with the rosters as big as they are it is kind of sad that he isn’t on the team, but first base is a deep position. I hate how the All Star game “counts” now, but it could still in theory end in a tie. I really want to see the game go into the 13th inning tied.

This whole Lebron James thing is just more proof to me that the NBA is a joke. In what other sport can the 3 best free agents conspire to play on the same team and change the face of the sport? Basketball has the fewest players on the court/field/ice of team any sport, and players play both offense and defense for almost the entire game, so each player has more impact than in any other sport. Isn’t this reverse collusion? I almost hope that one or two of them get injured and the Heat are burned for using their entire salary cap on 3 players, and I definitely hope there are chemistry problems on that team. I will certainly be rooting against the Heat for the duration of that trio’s stay.

I’ve already written plenty so I’ll have to save my iPad review for another post. I’ll also be able to post a review of the new iPhone in a few days since mine is on its way. Everyone should definitely expect less frequent posts from me now that the deployment is over.

The End of the Deployment

Posted July 1st, 2010 by Rob

Tonight is the last night of the deployment. All we have left is turning in our barracks and the van Fort Dix let us use, then a bus ride back to western Massachusetts through a lot of traffic. We will have police escorts through Connecticut and Massachusetts so that part of the trip should go quickly. Tomorrow might be hectic when we get back to the armory, after the ceremony, as everyone scrambles to say their goodbyes, meet their families, get their bags, and get to their cars. It’s weird to think that tomorrow night I’ll be sleeping in my new place for the first time.

Today we finished up our processing, and got all the important documents that list all of our awards and our time served, etc. I ended up getting a Bronze Star for the deployment which I am pretty proud of. Then we all got some automatic awards just for deploying to Iraq. Anyway, It’s a strange feeling knowing that it’s over. It definitely went by quickly, almost like a whirlwind when you consider all the different stops and moves we made, but some days, weeks, or months seemed to go by very slow at the time. Everyone has made a lot of friends within the unit, or got to know the friends they already had even better. Once we get back, a lot of people will be transferring out of the unit or retiring. It will be a little weird not being around the same people I’ve been around 24 hours a day for an entire year anymore. It’s not the same feeling as graduating college but that’s probably the closest thing that some of my readers could relate to.

It seems like activity is picking up in the fantasy baseball league. There have been a lot of injuries lately, causing pickups at scarce positions. On top of that, with the season about halfway over lots of owners are trying to improve their teams so trade activity is picking up. My team is well positioned and can win the league with its current roster. Because of this, I’ve said no to some pretty tempting trade offers recently. As I said Malone, I support ousting those two owners – come up with some courses of action for the expansion draft.

Looking back, the past year wasn’t difficult at all, but I’m definitely looking forward to being home, seeing my family and friends, moving into my new place, getting to relax, and then getting back to work. It should be a fun summer. I might take a little break from posting, I’m not sure. In any event, thanks for reading and for your support

Big Party July 17th in Hebron

Posted June 29th, 2010 by Rob

Remember that my family will be throwing me a big party in Hebron on July 17th, beginning at 2pm. Everyone from TicketNetwork, all friends, and www.therobsmith.com readers are invited. I think I will also be making an appearance at some other area parties in the days and weeks after I arrive home on July 2nd. I need to ease into the summer-party scene in order to regain my partying and drinking skills, kind of like how Tiger Woods resumed his golf career after taking some time off.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write, but the internet in the barracks is finally working. Plenty has happened since I last posted. First, of course the entire unit is on the ground at Fort Dix now and we’re well on our way through the various tasks we need to complete to get out of here. Some soldiers with medical problems might have to stay here for a little while but almost everyone will be leaving soon. I’m excited to move into my new condo which is all ready for me. It is a true bachelor pad. The second bedroom will have a futon for any friends or brothers who end up staying over.

The U.S. soccer team is out of the World Cup, and Roger provided some good coverage of that in our last thread. I think they played a really good tournament, but of course the whole tournament (U.S. and everyone else) will be overshadowed by the numerous officiating blunders. Goals were awarded that shouldn’t have been, and goals weren’t awarded that should have been. Instant replay could be easy to institute in soccer, the referees already have wireless microphones and earpieces – just give another one to the fourth referee along with a TV set. I also think Americans hate the theatrics, diving, and time-wasting of soccer but I don’t really mind these things even though they’re annoying at times.

In a not-so-surprising development at home, Cosmo the dog has managed to get sprayed by a skunk twice in the past week. According to my brother, Cosmo doesn’t like being hosed down, but does like tomato juice baths very much. He has a very interesting life. Also Ryan, I’m glad you are using www.therobsmith.com for your technical support question – this is actually a very good place to get tech support on any number of topics, we have a lot of subject-matter experts here on everything from satellite TV to Microsoft .net Framework to SQL Query to C# to the Exchange Manager.

In a surprising development, I bought an iPad. I bought the base WiFi only model, and plan on keeping it in my living room on my coffee table to be my casual-use computer. It will be a lot more visually friendly than having a laptop in the room and power cords running across the floor. I tried out the iPad and loved it. It seems like it would be a lot easier to write lengthy documents on the iPad’s larger virtual keyboard than on the iPhone.

U.S. vs. Algeria

Posted June 23rd, 2010 by Rob

So we’ve been pretty busy over the last few days. Getting an entire National Guard unit transferred from active-duty status back to National Guard status is very complicated. There is lots of paperwork having to do with accrued leave, finance, then other tasks having to do with logistics, travel arrangements, etc. Some tasks need to be repeated 170 times because that’s how many soldiers there are. I already went through some of my medical screening and stuff so once the rest of the unit arrives I should be able to continue working on the “checklist” that we need to get out of here. All in all, however, it’s still better than going through Fort Dix the first time because we aren’t here for as long, the process is a little simpler, and we have going home to look forward to instead of going to Iraq for a year.

The U.S. soccer team plays in a little while – I’m going to try to watch as much of the game as possible but we’ll be working so it might be tough. Hopefully they can score an early goal and cruise through the game. If the game is tied late it could get very nerve-racking. The tiebreaker scenarios are friendly to the U.S. but things could still go wrong if they tie or especially if they lose. The U.S. has never gotten a point (either a tie or win) in the third game of group play in the World Cup. Their opponent Algeria must score goals to have a chance to advance so the U.S. should have plenty of scoring opportunities on the counterattack.

Even though the AL East is so unbalanced relative to the rest of baseball, I certainly don’t see Bud Selig moving to change the divisions or playoff formula around. We’ll need to wait for a more progressive commissioner for any changes. But it’s more complicated than that. Baseball wants its playoffs and World Series to have good TV ratings, and one way to do this is to have east-west series. Any changes to the playoff formula to potentially include all three good AL East teams would hurt teams from other TV markets. So, its certainly an interesting situation that isn’t present in any other sports, but as we’ve learned in other recent cases, baseball just isn’t like other sports in many ways.

Fantasy Baseball 40% Season Summary

Posted June 20th, 2010 by Rob

First, on the U.S. soccer goal that was taken away – I think it’s unbelievable that a ref is able to make such a big call and not be required to tell the players, coaches, or media which player the foul was called against. To this day no one except him knows who committed the “foul”. Maybe it was a makeup call, as some are speculating, but it’s a pretty harsh one. Dempsey’s earlier goal was pretty amazing too – that cowering goalkeeper seemed frightened when Dempsey shot it right over him.

Anyway, we’re a little over 40% through the fantasy baseball season, so I figured everyone would love to read a season synopsis for my team thus far. Overall the team has performed well, consistently in the pack in the top half of the standings usually between 4th and 2nd, but also occasionally occupying 1st place.

Offense: I’m really happy with how my team has performed on offense, I am kind of surprised at some of my point totals. This mostly has to do with Alex Rios, who I initially regretted drafting but is now on Yahoo’s “can’t drop” list and is the 6th overall ranked player. Miguel Cabrera has been a monster, ranked 3rd. David Wright has been a solid yet sometimes frustrating contributor, but still ranks 16th overall. Me trading Morneau plus 4 draft rounds for him is looking shaky right now but should still work in the long term. It’s not all good news though. Joe Mauer apparently used all his power in 2009 and Jose Reyes has basically performed as a poor man’s version of himself from a few years ago. The back end of my offense with players like Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Alfonso Soriano has done the job but often leave me wanting more. If Nelson Cruz is able to overcome his leg injuries it would be a big boost- he always performs great when healthy. I’m also going with Martin Prado (31st ranked player!) over Placido Polanco from now on, a decent upgrade. Mike Stanton is a long term investment, and any production from him this season is a bonus.

Keeper Candidates: Locks: Cabrera, Wright Possible: Stanton, Rios Less Possible: Mauer, Reyes, Cruz, Prado.

Pitching: The pitching has been pretty disappointing, but has its moments and can definitely improve. Wins, ERA, and WHIP began terribly just like last season, but are slowly improving, and I am actually poised to pick up a decent amount of points in these categories as long as the law of averages continues to apply. Firstly, relief pitching has been very strong with my 4 closers led by the surprising but fading Matt Capps. Brian Fuentes has been shaky and I used to carry his understudy Rodney. Carlos Marmol and Brian Wilson have been everything I expected them to be. Capps may not hold onto the job so I might have to find other options to keep my edge over Perrotti in this category.

As for the starters: my top pick Josh Beckett has been an injury disaster, who I am optimistic can salvage the second half of his season. Felix Hernandez has pitched well but not up to expectations, and Javier Vazquez had a horrific start but is rounding into form. My second tier of guys has been mixed. Jonathan Sanchez might be my best pick of the draft, but Joel Piniero and AJ Burnett have been solid but uninspiring. After these guys, I’ve used a collection of supporting guys to round out the staff but no one has emerged as a star from that group. The Brandon Webb long shot has not paid off yet. I still think the pitching will improve enough to get me into position to win the league, in the 70-point overall range.

Keeper Candidates: Lock: Hernandez. Possible (likely only 1): Sanchez, Beckett.

In conclusion – the team has everything it needs to win the league despite a draft that I don’t think was that great. Last season, my team had no power so it had a definite ceiling it couldn’t exceed, but still performed well enough to get second place. This year’s team has no glaring deficiencies and much room to improve, especially in pitching. It should finish very high in the standings. Malone’s team is terrible.

Back in the U.S.

Posted June 18th, 2010 by Rob

So I am back at Fort Dix. It’s a pretty surreal feeling being here again and knowing that our deployment is all over. I got here yesterday around 12pm after two days of nonstop travel. Today I woke up around 3am, and I’m reminded of the jetlag I had while I was home on leave. It should go away after a few days. It feels great to be back, with grass, trees, TV, Dunkin Donuts, a real shower, no dust in the air, etc. Of course almost all of the company is still in Iraq, so I won’t be totally happy until they’re all here too. My job is to make connections here so that when the rest of the unit arrives, we’ll be able to go through all the medical, administrative, equipment turn-in, and other processes quickly.

I pre-ordered a new iPhone today. The website says it won’t ship until July 14th (the release date is June 24th), but getting it just a few days late beats making an unnecessary trip to the Apple Store in West Hartford where there may or may not be any in stock. Plus I won’t be home until the beginning of July anyway. I hope the purchase goes through, but I’m naturally pessimistic because of my recent NewEgg rejection and past problems with AT&T and Apple.

According to Apple, all I’ll have to do is plug the new device into my computer and supposedly all my music, apps, and the AT&T phone account will be transferred to the new device. I’m increasingly worried that my rickety 4-year old laptop which contains my iTunes will die, so I really need to back up all of my stuff once I get home. I know there are shady methods to do this. Does Apple have a official, approved way to transfer one’s iTunes to a new computer, when upgrading systems?

I’m watching the World Cup right now and the Germany-Serbia ref is ruining the game by issuing out 6 cards so far in the first half (including 2 yellows to one of Germany’s best player). Most of the cards were issued for routine tackles. Serbia just took the lead on the shorthanded Germans. Carigs, do you think we should get robots to officiate these games or place sensors on players’ bodies to determine how “hard” a foul was?

I think we’re going to have a party in Hebron in July (probably the 17th) so I’ll get to see everyone, and of course all the loyal readers of www.therobsmith.com will be invited to attend. I’m looking forward to moving into my new place, getting a new car, seeing all of my family and friends, going back to TicketNetwork, etc.

Goodbye Middle East

Posted June 15th, 2010 by Rob

I will officially never set foot in Iraq again (unless something unforeseen happens). The two people I’m traveling with and I were very lucky to get routed directly to Kuwait from our base, without having to make the planned stop at another base in between. If we had made the planned stop it would have added a full day to our travel time. While we were in midair, the crew announced that due to weather in the intermediate city, we’d be flying directly to Kuwait. We were in an enormous Air Force plane and there were only about 10 people total. Anyway, with a little more luck I’ll be on my way back to the U.S. soon. I should be up on my phone for calls and texts within a couple days as long as AT&T turns on my service properly this time.

And yes today is the big day that I will officially become a “homeowner” or “condo-owner”. I’d like to thank my Mom who has been very helpful in taking care of everything having to do with the home purchase while I’ve been away. She says it’s fun to spend other people’s money.

It feels strange that the deployment is pretty much over for me. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’ve had the same routine for so long that I just got very used to it, and it will be weird not having to check my two Iraq email accounts or go to my regular meetings. Time went by slowly at the beginning but definitely flew towards the end.