11/7/98 - Soccer season started this week. I am playing and managing a men's division team called Slow Motion. Believe me, the name is appropriate. This time of year always seems to fly by, mostly because of all the activities, holidays, and parties. It seems like every organization on Kwajalein has some sort of party during this time of the year. Combine that with the never-ending sports activities and parties, and it starts to seem like I never see my room! I have been invited by my friend Mike to go sailing over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We are going up to an Island called Nell, which is a gorgeous uninhabited island on the West Reef of the Atoll. I've been there twice before with Mike (see pictures on my Sailing Pictures page) and it is always a great time. I am really looking forward to it.
I finally finished my PADI Divemaster certification. It was a long, hard road, but I'm glad I did it. I have already assisted with a dive class, and it's worth the trouble just to help people get involved in diving. It's great to see the expressions on students' faces when they breathe underwater for the first time. I'm looking forward to doing some more classes, and to doing some more recreational diving on Kwajalein while I'm still here!
I went to a Halloween party on the evening of November 1st that was touted as being the best party on Kwaj. It was a great time. Almost everyone who went dressed up, and it was fun to try and figure out who was who and what the costumes were. I can't remember the last time I dressed up for Halloween. I was supposed to go as Mark McGwire with a friend of mine who was going to go as Sammy Sosa, but our costumes didn't come in the mail in time for the party. I ended up dressing up like a rapper (Vanilla Bryce!) with a big chain around my neck that I made out of tinfoil. I thought it was a lame costume, but everyone at the party seemed to like it. If I get any pictures from anyone who was at the party, I'll put one on my People page.
12/5/98 - I had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I spent the entire long weekend sailing with my friends Mike and Michele Cheatham on their 43' Beneteau sailboat. It was a great time. Besides the Cheathams and myself, our friends Steve, Erin, and Sophia went along as well. We left early on Thanksgiving morning, headed for an anchorage at Nell island, an uninhabited island about 3/4 of the way up the West Reef of the atoll. The weather was nice when we left, mostly sunny, with moderate winds, but changed when we were a few hours out into the middle of the lagoon. The sun melted away the clouds and the wind died, making for a gorgeously hot midday. We threw some lines off the back of the boat, and proceeded to go swimming and floating, using the line to pull ourselves back to the boat, which was only going 1 or 2 knots. It was kind of weird to be swimming in 200 feet of water, but it was lots of fun. After having our Thanksgiving dinner (turkey sandwiches!) we picked up some breeze and headed out to Mann island, where we went through Mann Pass and anchored on the ocean side of the reef. Because of the light winds, we didn't have enough time to make it all the way to Nell, so we decided to stay the night anchored off of Mann. We did some snorkeling and beach walking in the late afternoon, and then had dinner and visited into the evening. The ocean was very calm that evening, and we all stayed out late to enjoy the sounds of the water and to look at the stars.
On Friday, we pulled anchor after breakfast and set off into blue water, headed for Nell island. The winds had changed a bit, and were coming out of the south, which made our sail from Mann to Nell mostly downwind. We had light winds, with a few moderate gusts as clumps of clouds crossed the otherwise blue sky. The ocean was fairly calm, with only 3 - 5 foot waves, making for a fairly pleasant sail. We made it to Nell with time to spare and quickly doused the sails and prepared to set our anchors. Because of how the bottom slopes rapidly up to the islands, and the fact that the anchorage is just outside a small pass, anchoring at Nell can be somewhat tricky. We missed setting the anchors correctly on the first try, but got it the second time and proceeded to secure the anchors and lines. Between Mike, Michele, and myself, we were an able crew. We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing. After a delicious dinner of tortilla soup that Michele made, we went ashore to watch the sunset and brought along some snacks and drinks. I took some pictures of all of us on the beach with the time delay on my camera, and I can't wait to see how they turn out.
After breakfast on Saturday, Mike took Sophia and I over to one of the islands to explore and play. We walked along the beach for awhile, inspecting the thousands of shells and coral stones covering the surfline. We saw a group of young blacktip sand sharks chasing a school of immature tuna in some shallow water. We picked out a nice shaded spot on the beach, and took a nap and talked. I built a sand castle and buried myself in the sand while Sophia got some sun. It was a really nice time. While we were frolicking on the beach, the other four members of our group took the dinghy over to a nearby coral head, where they went snorkeling. At lunchtime, everyone made their way back to the boat, and we had some delicious homemade chicken salad sandwiches. After lunch, we swam and snorkeled some more, and then several of us took showers and cleaned up. Dinner that night was spaghetti, and it was very yummy. Steve made a funny comment about the food being the thing that he will remember most about the trip. We played Pictionary and had some drinks to pass the evening. The boys beat the girls at Pictionary, but the ladies vowed revenge! It was a lovely day at some of the loveliest islands in the atoll. I remember feeling very lucky to be experiencing such a wonderful place.
On Sunday morning, we had muffins and oatmeal for breakfast, and then we all piled in the dinghy to venture out to another one of the nearby islands. The island we went to is so small that it doesn't have a name yet, and isn't listed on any of the charts. Feeling much like adventurers, we piled some rocks up on the shore in a sort of monument and named the tiny patch of sand and rocks Buttsmall Island. We all took a picture underneath the island's only palm tree, and then journeyed back to the sailboat. We pulled anchor around 11:00am, and saw some spinner dolphins coming through the pass as we were setting off. The medium sized pod was moving slowly, which usually means they had just eaten, so we decided not to bother them, and headed back out oceanside. The ocean was as smooth as glass, with hardly any wind to stir the water. It was eerily calm at times, and the lack of movement and sound reminded me of the movie "Dead Calm". The wind picked up a little bit later in the day, and we alternately sailed and motored throughout the afternoon. We went back to Mann island, which we decided is a good halfway point between Kwajalein and Nell, and set the anchor in about the same place as Thursday night. Sophia and I made dinner on Sunday evening, garlic chicken casserole, and it was a hit with the rest of the crowd. I have to give Sophia most of the credit, she actually made the casserole, all I did was light the stove! We played a rematch of Pictionary that evening, and the boys won again! After a fun filled day, we all headed below decks to avoid some rain showers that were passing through.
We woke Monday morning to another perfectly calm sea. The weather radio forecasted a windless day, so we decided to pull anchor after breakfast and motor back to Kwajalein, about 4 hours away. As we pulled away from Mann, we saw a HUGE manta ray in the water. Conservatively, I would guess that the manta was at least 20 feet across. We circled around the majestic creature, trying to see its graceful water ballet, but got little more than a glimpse before the manta flapped it's "wings" and took off. The sighting awed all of us. We motored back to Kwajalein, listening to Mike and Steve play songs on their guitars, and relaxing in the shade of the sail. We got back to Kwaj around noontime and unloaded the boat at the pier. It was a great trip. I count myself lucky to have the opportunities and friends that I have out here!
12/19/98 - Soccer season ended the other day. My soccer team, Slow Motion, played Spartan's II, the second high school team, for the championship of the Men's B Division and won! This is the second year that I have been on a team that won the B Division! This year's win was especially gratifying because I was the Coach and Manager of the team, and had spearheaded our combined efforts from the field and sidelines all season. All the guys had lots of fun, and it was a great season overall. There is no prize or trophy for winning, but they do take our picture and give each player a copy and put it in the local newspaper. We play for the fun of it!
Christmas is coming up, and the parties and festivities on the island are starting to heat up. I have four parties to go to in the next 5 days! Because of the remote location and being separated from family, people stationed on Kwajalein tend to get together a lot during the Holidays. I am very fortunate to have many friends and many opportunities to get together with them. Thoughts of family are always in my mind though, and I wish I was able to see them more often. I will get to see my parents over the holidays, though not in the conventional sense. We are taking advantage of the Department of Defense's Holiday Morale Video Visit program this year. The program takes advantage of the Video Teleconferencing (VTC) facilities at bases around the world to allow people stationed overseas to visit with family for a half hour. My parents and I are going to have a video visit on Monday, December 21st between the VTC facility here on Kwajalein and the VTC in my Dad's building. It should be fun!
I thought you should know, I am late getting my Christmas cards and presents out this year (again!), but I am getting them in the mail soon. Friends and family should expect to get their gifts and cards in 2-4 weeks. Better late than never, right? I hope everyone has a great Christmas, and I'll be sending out good wishes to everyone for the New Year!
01/15/99 - The middle of January finds me in Aspen, Colorado (of all places!) winding down after a week of Cisco router training, and getting ready to do some serious skiing at Snowmass. My class was very informative, and will prove to be a help in getting one of the career certifications that the computer industry values in employees such as myself. I met some really nice people at the class, including a guy named Aaron that I went to high school with back in 1989. A bunch of us guys from the class went out for drinks a few times during the week, and I think that I've made some really good friends as a result.
I'm hooking up with some friends to go skiing over the long weekend. It's been a while since I've been skiing, so I'm hoping that I remember how! Aspen and Snowmass are supposed to be some of the best skiing in Colorado, and I'm really looking forward to the adventure. The next stop in my trip is Seattle for the Army Systems Administrators and Network Administrators Workshop. I'll be there for about a week with my supervisor, Jason Fuller. It should be fun and informative. I'll be sure to write and let you all know how it goes!
Just a short news issue today. I've got lots of stuff to do and e-mails to write before I go skiing tomorrow!
2/4/99 - I thought that I would keep a journal of sorts while on my TDY trip to Colorado, Seattle, and Washington D.C. so that you, my faithful readers would see what I did on my travels. Here it is!
This has been a fun trip. I landed in Denver on Jan. 10th and drove through the city to my hotel in Lakewood, on the West Side of the city. After checking in, I went out for a bite to eat. It had been so long since I had tasted fast food that I opted for McDonald’s hamburgers instead of the various cuisines offered by the many restaurants in the area. I returned to my hotel and channel-surfed for a while before going to bed. My training class started on Monday the 11th, and I made my way into the city early since I didn’t know how the traffic would be, or what time the class was due to start. As it turns out, the traffic was light and I got a parking spot a couple blocks away from the US West building at about 7:00AM. Unfortunately, the class didn’t start until 9:00, which left me almost 2 hours to wait. It was my first time in Denver, so I took the opportunity to take a walk around the city and take a look at its various offerings. The first thought that struck me was that Denver is an extremely clean city; the part I was walking around in was at any rate. The temperature was about 60 degrees (I later found out that the warm weather was an anomaly for that time of year) and my heavy ski parka was too much warmth and was making me hot, so I shed it in favor of my polo shirt. Imagine me, the warm-weather man, walking around Denver in January wearing just a shirt and jeans! At around 8:00AM, the doors to the training facility opened up and I went in to wait the rest of the time in the classroom. I met my instructor, a very nice guy named Brent, and we hit it off immediately. We talked for nearly a half-hour about football and other pastimes. It was clear that we would become friends in the coming week. An interesting coincidence occurred that first day of training: I ended up sitting next to a guy named Aaron that I thought looked awfully familiar. As it turns out, we went to the same high school back in 1989. How funny that we should meet again in Denver after all that time! We went to lunch together on the first day of class and reminisced about the days of old.
The week of training was pretty good. It was a little below my ability level, but provided plenty of new information relevant to my many duties as a Network Engineer. I made fast friends with Brent (as expected) and another student from the Seattle area named Ron. The three of us went out several times during the week for drinks and general carousing, and had some great times! I’ll never forget the Fabulous Majestic or Shotgun Willie’s. Haley, I hope you read The Green Mile! ;-)
I left Denver on Friday afternoon and headed west on I-70, bound for Carbondale, CO. The drive was simply amazing. I have never seen such beautiful mountains before. I had a hard time keeping my eye on the road as I drove over passes that were 11,000 feet in altitude, and offered panoramic views of some of Colorado’s most beautiful peaks. The drive took approximately three hours, during which I traveled over hills and mountains, through valleys and tunnels, and over several bridges that were carved into the sides of some of the mountains. It was a wonderful drive.
I arrived at Carbondale and checked into the Days Inn. When I checked in, there was a message waiting for me from my friend Rick Huber and his wife Linda, who were staying at the Stonebridge Condos at Snowmass Village. They called just as I was walking into the room and told me that I should drive to Snowmass that night and meet them at a bar called Cowboys. They also told me that our friend Lazlo was going to be coming to ski the weekend with us, and that he had a room at an inn that borders the slopes that he wanted to share with me. Well, I was not going to commute a half hour every morning to ski when I could just walk out of the room and hit the slopes, so I packed up all my stuff and headed for Snowmass. I hooked up with Rick and Linda and Laz at Cowboys as planned, then checked into the Pokolodi lodge with Laz and went to bed to rest up for the big day of skiing ahead of us. Linda doesn’t ski in the mornings because she likes to spend time with their daughter Kelsey, so it was Laz, Rick, and myself heading up the chairlift on Saturday morning. The day was gorgeous: bright, sunny skies, temperatures near 30, and 18 lifts worth of groomed trails. We had a blast. I had forgotten how much fun skiing is, but once I started zig-zagging my way down those slopes, it all came back to me. We spent the entire morning cruising the seemingly hundreds of runs on the mountain, and by 11:00, we were ready for a break! We headed to Rick’s condo to meet up with Linda and take a much-needed rest break. After 30 minutes or so, Laz and I decided that we were sufficiently rested, so we headed back out to the slopes with plans to meet Rick and Linda at a restaurant on top of one of the peaks called Sam’s Knob for lunch. We went for a few more runs, then headed up to Sam’s Knob and enjoyed a scrumptious lunch. I had a bowl of Cajun bean soup, and a Cajun shrimp pasta that were absolutely terrific. We spent the rest of the afternoon skiing, and then Laz and I headed back to our room to shower and change for dinner. The four of us took the bus over to Aspen to see the Light Parade and fireworks on the Aspen slopes. The parade consisted of skiiers holding flares and skiing down the mountain in line. It was visually stunning. The fireworks were set to music, but the clouds that came in obscured our view. The effect of the fireworks lighting up the sky and turning the clouds different colors was very cool. The show was part of an annual tradition at Aspen called WinterSkol, which is a festival for the locals that takes place after the big rush of holiday tourists.
I was greeted by 6 inches of fresh powder on the slopes for my second day of skiing. It took a little while to get used to keeping my ski tips up and carving through the powder, but once I figured it out, I had a blast. The next two days of skiing were as awesome as the first, and I had so much fun that the three days I spent at Snowmass seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, it was time to go. I drove back to Denver on the evening of the 19th, and checked into a hotel to get some sleep and pack for the trip to Seattle the next day.
When I arrived in the Seattle area, I met my supervisor, Jason Fuller, at the Sheraton Tacoma Hotel, where we were staying for the next three nights. We got together for some dinner and drinks, and while we were chatting about work, some representatives of the Red Cross came over and explained that the restaurant we were in was participating in a charity drive to fund the Red Cross’s efforts in the Seattle/Tacoma area. They asked if we wouldn’t mind giving an interview, which we agreed to happily. We spent the next 20 minutes explaining where we were from and what had brought us to the area. The ladies were fascinated with our descriptions of life on Kwajalein, and they both laughed when we told them about how small the island is! Evidently, our interview had a chance of being included in some sort of newsletter or magazine, so if you happen to see a picture of me in a Red Cross publication, clip it out and send it to me as a souvenir from my trip! Over the next three days, Jason and I attended the Army System Administrators and Network Administrators Workshop at Ft. Lewis. The workshop was VERY informative, and I took over 20 pages of notes during the three days of presentations! The information presented at the workshop was extremely valuable to me in performing my job duties, and I enjoyed the workshop as a result.
After the workshop, I flew to Washington D.C. to see my parents and attend the ComNet Conference and Exposition. The visit with my parents was wonderful, but ComNet was less than exciting. Several of the vendors at the show had products that I was interested in, but the majority did not. It was a good show, with plenty of new products being announced, but the most I got out of it was a few free t-shirts!
On my way back to Kwaj, I was delayed for 24 hours because the military flight from Honolulu to Kwajalein was delayed, so I found myself with a day to kill and nothing to do. While leafing through some tourism pamphlets, I saw an ad for a company that rents motorcycles, and since I had nothing better to do, I went ahead and rented a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and went for a road tour of Oahu. It was a blast. I had SO much fun! I had forgotten how much I miss riding motorcycles, and the ride I had that day was a great reminder! I liked it so much that I am tentatively planning on going on a motorcycle tour of New Zealand when I go there for the America’s Cup races in February of 2000. I can’t wait to do it again!
Well, that’s all there is to say about that trip. I had a good time, but I’m glad I am home. Before I close out this edition of the News, I would like to send out a big "Congratulations" to my Dad for finally getting selected by the Department of the Army for promotion to Colonel.
4/28/99 - Ok, so it's been over two months since I updated this page. You're all probably thinking that I dropped off the face of the earth, or ran away to Bora Bora with some scantily clad island princess or something, right? Well, the truth is, I have been as busy as a bee buzzing in a basket these past couple months. I've been working like a mad fool at getting things organized for some projects that are coming up at work this summer, and I have finished up softball season and have been coaching, playing, and refereeing basketball nearly every day for the past 3 weeks! This time of year is always busy for me, but it seems like this year it is especially difficult to find time to enjoy the more pleasurable aspects of life on Kwajalein. To add to the confusion, I have been teaching dive classes with my friend Mike in an effort to obtain my Assistant Instructor certification, and I've been trying to find time two nights a week to play roller hockey! Wow, I am a busy boy. People say that living on Kwajalein is like a permanent vacation, but I think I need a vacation from my vacation!
As I said, work has been ultra busy lately. I've been put in charge of installing a new cash register system at the five retail stores out here, which has taken a lot of planning and coordinating between the stores, my department, the vendors, and the installation team. The good thing is that this is a very high-profile project, which will probably get me some notariety around the island and with management. The bad thing is, the installation schedule only is very aggressive, and it looks like I'll be working six to seven weeks of consecutive weekends, with a total of about three days off during that period. Can you say "Goodbye, social life?" Along with that, I've been tasked to manage the installation of a wide-area network for the school system here, which also involves a whole bunch of logistical planning and effort. Combine those with the fact that one of the other network engineers in my department just moved back to the states, and another network engineer is on a six week vacation, and you can see that work has taken over my life! It's going to be a busy couple of months, but I'm being rewarded with a couple government-paid business trips in July/August and September. It will be nice to get off the island for a few weeks after all this craziness, and I'm looking forward to taking some time for myself to visit family and friends. I guess it all works out in the end!
Here's some news: my brother Blake is graduating from college next month! Blake will graduate from Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) on May 15th with a Batchelor's degree in Psycology. I wish I could be there to seem him get his degree, but it's just not going to be possible. I'm not quite sure what he's planning on doing after college, but Mom tells me that he has tentative plans to move to Baltimore and enter the work force. I'm very proud of you, Blake. Great job!
I guess that's it for this issue of The News. I'm still looking for more pictures of friends and family to add to my site, so if you have some, send them! I was pleased to recieve a few e-mails recently from people who have toured my site and enjoyed it. If you have any comments, good or bad, about my web page, please send them to me! I love hearing from people who have seen my site, and I'm always looking for suggestions to make it better. Also, if you are a friend or family memeber and have vacation plans for this summer, let me know about them. I'm going to make a valiant effort to see as many friends and family as I can this year, so maybe we can hook up somewhere and visit! As always, thanks for visiting Casa de Bryce!
6/19/99 - Where to begin? Basketball season ended a month or so ago, and for the first time since I've been playing b-ball on Kwaj, my team walked away with the Men's B Division Championship! Hooray!!! This is the third sports championship that I have won on Kwaj, but only the first basketball championship (the other two were in outdoor soccer). This championship was especially satisfying because I was the coach of the team, and was responsible for putting the team together. All the running around must have done me some good, because my pants have been getting looser and people keep asking me if I am losing weight! I also just finished playing and managing two indoor soccer teams for the Summer Fun Indoor Soccer Season. It was a chore trying to get everyone to show up at the games, but I love to play, and I've been more than happy to play on both teams, two games a night, three or four nights a week. Also, I think the short summer indoor soccer season helped keep my players tuned up for the fall outdoor soccer season. I'm really looking forward to the start of the outdoor season, especially since my team, Slow Motion, is going for its third consecutive championship! Lookout, baby! Here comes the 3-peat!
From sports to sailing: Every year, the Kwajalein Yacht club sponsors a sailboat trip up the Roi-Namur, the other major working island in the atoll. This was my first year to go, and as always, I sailed up with my friend Mike on his 43-foot Beneteau, Kailuana. We were supposed to have about 7 or 8 people going with us when we left on Saturday evening, but due to one reason or another, a bunch of folks cancelled, and it ended up being Mike, myself, and my friend Rob. We set sail at about 8:30pm on Saturday, and enjoyed a brilliant night sky, highlighted by the full moon and virtually no clouds during the three hour sail to Bigej. We overnighted at Bigej, then pulled anchor at about 8:00am and started heading for Roi. We had a beautiful 6 hour sail to Roi, with constant breezes and a shining sun the entire way. We were the first of 8 boats to set anchor at Roi-Namur, and as the rest of the fleet came in, we floated over on our foam "noodles" and shared a beer and a story with each of the crews from the other boats. We spent the afternoon socializing and relaxing, then headed back to Kailuana to clean up for the evening's activities. The Yacht Club had prepared a terrific Cajun Shrimp Boil for everyone that sailed up for the Regatta at the Pavillion on Roi's longest stretch of beach, and we didn't hesistate to eat our fill of shrimp and wash them down with some ice cold beer. As the party started to wind down, we heard of another party that some folks on Roi were having for a fellow that was leaving named Dan Foley. The party was at the Scuba Shack, and most of us didn't know the fellow who was leaving, but we were more than happy to go to his party and join his friends in bidding him farewell! After absconding with a scooter that provided the transportation, we partied the night away at the Scuba Shack, and made it back to the boat at around 2am. We spent most of Monday sleeping off our previous night's activities. There was another party on Monday evening at the Roi Parrothead Club, and the three of us joined in again for the food and beer, albeit to a much lesser extent than we did on Sunday! The sail back on Tuesday was gorgeous. The sun was out, and we had a nice breeze to move us along. We got some additional company for the ride back as a newlywed couple who recently moved out to Kwaj joined us for another spectacular day of sailing. Overall, it was a fantastic trip, one that I wouldn't mind repeating many times over.
Work has been ultra-busy lately. I finally finished the cash register project the I was working on (Hooray!), and have received accolades and congratulations on a job well done as a result of my work (which means I must have done a pretty good job, right?). I thought that I might have a week or two respite from the stressful pace of engineering a major project, but no sooner did I complete one thing, then my management turned around and gave me another! Now, I am the project engineer for the new network system that my department is installing at the two schools here on Kwaj. It is an extremely complicated project as far as coordination goes, and I have already lost track of the number of times I have had to ride down to one of the schools to discuss the installation plans with the Facilities department and/or the Communications department. You would think that coordinating the efforts of a couple different groups of people wouldn't be too hard on an island as small as Kwajalein, but you would be WRONG! I can't believe all the extra work that it takes to push paperwork around and coordinate schedules and review plans with all the different departments and individuals that are involved in this project. I never thought it would be this hard! But, as much as I complain, things are going pretty well with the school network project. It'll be a lot of hard work, but I think we can get it done in time for school to start in the fall.
8/24/99 - I know, I'm a tremendous slouch. I haven't done any work on my web page in forever, and I've been less than good about e-mailing people to keep in touch, and I've pretty much ignored my entire family for the past three or four months, BUT... I'm going to make it up to everyone! My friends, family, fans, and faithful web surfers are all in for a delightful surprise. You see, I'm about to leave on a combination business/vacation trip, and I've done all sorts of work and planning in preparation for this trip. I'm going to be living in hotel rooms and rental cars for the next 5 or 6 weeks, which will give me plenty of time to work on my web page, and I'm just itching to post my new pictures, news, and links! I'm also planning on doing all kinds of crazy stuff with the main page, which should give the site a whole new look and feel. Those of you who have been fans of Casa de Bryce for a while should know that I have a tendancy to keep a travel log when I'm on TDY, which means that there will be all kinds of new stories for you to read right here on the News page. Also, I've got a TON of pictures for a new feature page called Robert's Underwater Photography, which features the intriguing and extremely beautiful photography of my very good friend Robert Ramsey. So, stay tuned! There's more to come!
9/3/99 - So far, this trip has not been all that great. It is now Friday the 3rd of September, and I am as sick as a dog. No, that doesn't quite cover it. I'm as sick as a 93 year old flea with Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's Disease that is sitting on the back of a mangy three-legged mutt that has cancerous lumps growing out of the side of its head and a bad cough. I have been stuck in my hotel room for the past two days with either strep throat or tonsilitis. I am grouchy, tired, hungry, and sick of watching TV. My parents will arrive in Atlanta today, and it should be a nice break for my mom to leave all her domestic chores behind and come several hundred miles south to take care of her sick 26-year-old son. I bet she's really looking forward to that!!! To make matters worse, the class that I came all this way to take, the Advanced Cisco Router Configuration class, SUCKS!!! The instructor is Indian (dots, not feathers) and really hard to understand, and he doesn't have ANY kind of rapport with the class. He presents the material in a way that makes you wish you had brought NO-DOZE with you to class, and makes a habit of answering questions that aren't asked, and ignoring the ones that are. To go along with that, there is a guy in my workgroup that has absolutely no experience with these routers. Evidently, this guy has two Masters degrees and a PhD, but his knowledge of routers is pretty much limited to the location of the power button. I end up spending any free time that I might have during the class explaining the simplest of networking concepts to this dumkopf. The instructor has already given up on him, and expects the other members of his workgroup (myself and a guy named Doug) to help him out. Well, he can forget that. I did it for the first day or two, but then I started to realize that I wasn't being paid to teach this guy about networking, in fact, I wasn't being paid at all! My company was paying good money to have me learn from this class, not spend all my time teaching some ignoramous about the basic theories of networking. He should have had that kind of knowledge before signing up for the class (as required by the prerequisites!) I told him (in the nicest way possible) that if he ever hoped to be able to understand the material, he needed some background knowledge and some hands-on experience. Thankfully, he got the message and stopped bugging me for help. This trip had better improve soon, or I'm liable to pack it all in and head back to Kwaj a few weeks early!
In other news, I had my birthday recently! For all of you who forgot to send me cards and birthday wishes, you are now two days late. I'll expect to see your belated birthday card in my mailbox when I get back to Kwaj. Thanks for remembering me! For those of you who are wondering, I spent my birthday in class, then went out to dinner with my friend Gail, who is from Chatanooga, at a place called Dave and Busters. It was lots of fun.
9/10/99 - Well, this trip is finally getting better! I'm in Reno, Nevada, and I just finished my second class of this trip, Creating and Managing a Web Server using Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0 (nice title, huh?). It was a cool class, and I learned a few cool web page tips (which should be obvious from my modified home page!) I'm staying at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno, and I've been playing BlackJack every night for since I've been here (sorry, Mom!) The coolest thing is, I am ahead by more than $700! I came to Reno with $250 in my pocket, and as I write this I have $900 in my wallet! And that's AFTER a whole week of eating at restaurants and shopping! Pretty cool, huh? I think so, anyway.
I am finally healthy again, thank goodness! I'm still taking some antibiotics, but the sore throat is gone, and I'm sleeping through the night for a change. The weather is kind of cool here in Reno, which is a problem since I only have one pair of pants with me, but I'm managing pretty well. Today, I think I am going to drive down to Lake Tahoe and check out the scene down there. Everyone says that it's a gorgeous drive, and that the casinos are nicer. I'm not sure if I'll do any gambling, but I thought it would be nice to see the lake.
Just a short News section this time. I just wanted to give everyone an update as to my whereabouts, and to let everyone know that I am feeling better. Also, I wanted to take a minute to apologize to my Uncle Ed for forgetting to wish him a happy birthday last week. The worst part about forgetting Ed's birthday is that it's on the same day as my own!!! Pretty lame, huh? Yup. Sorry Ed! Anyway, I hope this makes up for it:
9/14/99 - Wow, did I have a good time in Vegas! Casinos, clubs, rides, movies, gambling, The Strip, I don't know where to begin! I guess I'll begin at the beginning: I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday, September 11th. I was due to meet my friend Joe Waters and share a room with him at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. It was good timing for both Joe and I, because I had just had my birthday, and his was coming up on the 13th! We were hoping to have a wild birthday weekend, filled with fun and excitement, which is exactly what we did! Joe wasn't slated to arrive until 10pm due to a late plane flight, so I headed down to the casino after checking into the room and getting situated. I walked around for a while to get a feel for the place, and promptly got lost. That place is HUGE! After finally getting my bearings on the casino layout, I headed out to The Strip to take my first good look at Las Vegas. Only one word can describe The Strip: AMAZING. I have never seen anything like it! For those of you who have never been to Las Vegas, the MGM Grand is situated on the South Strip, on the corner accross from The Tropicana, Excalibur, and New York, New York. Other notables that are further South and within sight are Mandalay Bay and The Luxor, while looking North of the MGM you would see The Bellaggio, Cesar's Palace, Paris, The Venetian, the Flamingo Hilton, and Circus Circus, to name a few. All of these places are GIGANTIC resort casinos, each with their own theme and about a billion flashing lights. Needless to say, it's quite a sight. I strolled up The Strip, taking in the sights and sounds of Vegas for an hour or two before the heat got to me. I decided that I would be more comfortable in an air conditioned restaurant with a nice meal in front of me, so that's where I headed. After eating, I went up to the room to do some work stuff and take a nap before Joe got in. I was glad to see Joe when he arrived (at 11pm), and we chatted for a few hours before going to bed.
On Sunday, we got a (reasonably) early start, and got some breakfast before heading over to the Sports Book at the MGM to catch the football games on the 20-something TV's and video screens there. I am playing Fantasy Football again this year, so I wanted to watch a couple of the games that I had players in. Unfortunately, the Sport Book was SRO, so we went to another bar on the casino floor that had the games on TV. We watched the early games, especially the Indianapolis vs. Buffalo and Washington vs. Dallas games, and congratulated ourselves for not betting on them! After I was pretty sure that I had dominated my Fantasy Football opponent for the week, we headed over to New York New York to ride the roller coaster, which was a blast. We had lunch at a very nice Mexican restaurant in New York, New York, then went back to the room to plan the evening's activities. I caught the football highlights on SportsCenter while Joe mapped out our route. From the MGM, we walked over to Excalibur, where we caught a tram to Mandalay Bay, one of the newer casinos on The Strip. We checked it out, and walked through it a while before heading over to The Luxor to catch an I-Max movie called T-Rex. We had some time to kill before the movie, so we played a little BlackJack and Roulette. The movie was disappointing (read: boring as hell) and we spent the walk over to the bus station complaining about it, which was actually kind of fun. We caught a bus at the MGM, and headed North on the Strip, eventually arriving at The Riviera. Joe has been trying to see a show each time he goes to Vegas, and there was one at The Riviera called Splash, so I bought him a ticket for his birthday, as well as one for myself, and we headed over to the bar for a drink. We entertained ourselves at the bar for a while, which included having a frank discussion with one of the bartenders about what exactly makes a Dirty Girl Scout. The slot machines at The Riviera are touted as being "98% loose", which means they are supposed to pay back 98% of the time. We threw away about $40 proving this statement to be false, and then headed over to the theater to see Splash. The show was fantastic. It had dancing, singing, comedy, juggling, daredevils, magic, and a whole bunch of music and lights. We were both pleasantly surprised. After the show, we started walking back up the strip towards the MGM. Along the way, I explained my theories behind progressive betting (also called The Martingale System) to Joe, to which he voiced many doubts. In order to prove my point, we stopped in at nearly every casino along the way back to the MGM, including the Stardust, Ceasar's, the Bellaggio, the Flamingo Hilton, the Venetian, and Paris. I bet between $25 and $100 at a time on the roulette tables, following my system, and by the time we got back to the MGM, I had won $1100.00! Needless to say, Joe is now a believer!
On Monday, we slept in a little bit, mostly because we went to bed at 3:30am the previous night, and went to lunch at the MGM before heading out again for another exciting day. We caught a bus down to the Stratosphere Tower and Casino, where we caught the elevator to the 108th floor of the Vegas landmark, and took in a singular view of the city below. While we were up there, we rode the two amusement rides that sit atop the tower, The Big Shot, which shoots you up another 6 stories above the viewing area, and the Tower Rollercoaster, which is touted as being the highest rollercoaster in the world. Both were quite exciting! After the Stratosphere, we headed over to the Olympic Garden. We proceded to spend the entire afternoon, and not a small amount of my winnings, at the Garden, and were more than happy to do so! Much thanks goes out to Trisha, Elizabeth, T.J., Bailey, and Ariel for a great time!
And that brings me to today, the 14th. I just arrived in the Boston, MA area, and I'm staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Bedford. Tomorrow, I will start a three day class at Security Dymanics Corporation, on a new product that is used for network authentication and certification. This week, I plan to visit with some friends and family, including my grandparents and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. I'll spend the weekend with family in Springfield, MA, and will fly out to Atlanta again on Sunday the 19th.
10/20/99 - Well, I've been back on Kwaj for a couple weeks now and I still haven't finished the story of my recent TDY/vacation trip, so I thought I would sit down and finish what I started.
When last we were together, our intrepid hero had just entered the fabled hamlet of Bedford, a dim dungeon of a town, rife with fiends and villains of various varieties, and no place for the pure of heart. (I should have been a writer.) Anyhoo, I had a good few days in Bedford, MA, which included seeing an old friend, Krista Tibbs. Krista is actually the first girl I ever kissed (shock!) and we were good friends growing up in Maine. The Tibbs family has always been close to mine, but it had been awhile since I had seen or heard from Krista, so it was good to see her again. I took her to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called Papa Razzi's, and we spent the evening talking and laughing and telling old stories. The funniest thing was, after many years of not seeing each other, we found out that we were both slated to fly to Atlanta that coming Sunday, on the same plane! How funny is that? Naturally, we thought it was hilarious.
While in Bedford, I also visited with my grandparents on my father's side, Lee and Ruth Porter, as well as my cousin and her husband, Kent and Stephanie Hansen. It was the first time I had seen Kent and Stephanie since they had gotten married (in a beautiful ceremony on Martha's Vineyard, I might add), and they had all sorts of pictures to show me of their wedding and their new house. They didn't have any pictures of their honeymoon though. I'm guessing that it's they didn't get out much (lots of time spent in one room?). It was great to see them and my grandparents, and we enjoyed a very nice dinner together which was prepared by my grandmother. After my class was over, I drove out to Springfield, MA to see my mother's side of the family, most of which I hadn't seen in over a year. They threw a party for me at my uncle Brian's house, and practically the entire family came to see me, some from as far away as New Jersey! It was great to see everyone, and my only wish was that I had more time in the area to spend with my wonderful (and entertaining!) relatives. A big THANK YOU goes out to everyone that sacrificed time and activities to come see me, even when it was only for a little while!
On Sunday, September 19th, I drove my rental car to Logan Airport in Boston. Let me take a minute to say that I think whoever is responsible for the engineering and construction of the Improvement Project at Logan airport is a BIG FAT IDIOT. They have been working on that stupid construction project for the past 7 years or so, and it doesn't seem to be any closer to being done than it did a year after they started! It makes the whole experience of flying in and out of Boston a big pain in the butt. Anyway, I met up with Krista at the gate for our flight to Atlanta, and we managed to get our seats arranged so that we could sit together. We had a great time talking about people we knew from living in Maine and updating each other on where we've been and what we've been doing for the past few years. Having someone to talk to made the flight time go by like a flash. It was great! When we got to Atlanta, I offered to drop Krista off at her hotel so that I would know where it was when I came to pick her up the next day (we made plans to go out again). That was a mistake. We spent the next two hours riding around in my rental car in search of her hotel. By the time we finally found it, it was 2:00am or something like that, and I still had to drive back into the Buckhead area of Atlanta and find my hotel! It was fun though, and our mutual inability to read a road map correctly had us both laughing pretty hard. Krista and I went to the Atlanta Fish Company the next evening for dinner, which was excellent, and then sampled some of the night life in Buckhead, which is practically world-famous. Since it was a Monday night, there weren't many clubs open, and we ended up going to a swing-dancing club that was right up the road from the Fish Company. I had never done any swing-dancing, but Krista assured me that it was not too tough, and offered to show me the ropes. I figured that I would go along with it and learn a few steps, until I saw the people dancing at the club. These people were freakin' AWESOME! You would think that they were professional dancers the way they were dancing, as if their job was to make you feel self conscious about how badly you stumbled through the few steps you know, while they danced and twirled and basically made you look like a three-year-old. When I saw that, I was not about to get out there and embarrass myself. I was pretty close to reneging on my agreement to let Krista teach me a few steps when they announced that there was going to be a free half-hour beginner's swing dancing class in the other half of the club. Can you believe it? That's just my luck! Of course, Krista was so excited that I thought she was going to absolutely burst! We went over to the other part of the club, where a very nice (effeminate) instructor proceeded to show us a few steps. I have to admit, as goofy as I felt, it was actually kind of fun. Not only that, but the inability of most of the other people in the class to learn even the most basic steps made me feel like a natural! After the class, Krista and I went back upstairs and tore up the dance floor, and had a great time. It was really great to see Krista, in Boston and in Atlanta, and I'm looking forward to keeping in better touch with her from now on.
The rest of the week in Atlanta was also a lot of fun, especially the Lenny Kravitz concert that my buddy Lew and I went to at Lakewood Amphitheater. At the end of the week, I flew up to Norfolk, VA to visit with my parents for a week or so. When I got there, my brother Blake and his girlfriend Deborah were there, having driven down from Baltimore to see me, and I had a nice visit with them at my parent's house on the naval base in Norfolk (actually CINCLANFLT, but who's counting?). It was the first time I had been to my parents' new house, which is the first base housing that my dad has been assigned since being promoted to full Colonel, and I was impressed. Four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a big split driveway with a turnaround and a separate garage, a family room, dining room, living room, and sitting room; the place is huge! I couldn't believe that my parents are the only two people living in that house. I have some pictures of it that I will try and get put up on my Pictures page as soon as I get around to it. Not only did I get a chance to visit with Blake and Deborah, but my father's parents also came down to visit while I was there. On top of that, my friend Amanda stopped by for a couple days to hang out with me, and the six of us (Amanda, myself, my parents, and my grandparents) all went out to dinner in Norfolk at a place called Uncle Louie's, where they have a special on Wednesday nights: a pound of crab legs for six bucks. It was fun watching the different methods people use to crack the crab legs. We had a few bottles of wine (a really nice Merlot, I wish I could remember the name) and some of the best desserts I have ever seen, and then Amanda and I went out to an Irish pub in downtown Norfolk called Mo & O'Malleys. It was a really nice time. I consider myself lucky to still have both sets of grandparents, as well as a really cool set of parents. I really enjoy spending time with my folks, and I hope they realize how much I love them. If they didn't before, I bet they will after they read this! Seriously though, I truly enjoyed visiting with my various family members on this trip, and I hope they liked seeing me as well.
One of the coolest things I did on this trip was buy a motorcycle. Yup, a motorcycle! I bought a 1989 Yamaha FJ1200 in absolutely MINT condition. How did this happen, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I was driving around in my dad's Miata one day shortly after arriving in Norfolk, and I decided to stop in at a motorcycle dealership and look to see if some of the new models were in the showroom. The 2000's hadn't shown up yet, so I browsed through the used bikes they had, and chatted with a salesman for a while. It was while I was looking at a 96 Intruder that I saw the FJ sitting in their warehouse off to one side. The bike immediately grabbed my attention. Believe me when I tell you that this bike is in PERFECT condition. It had 13,500 miles on it, which is about 7000 less than you would expect to see on a 10 year old bike, and it was so clean that I could see my reflection in the brushed steel parts of the engine! There wasn't a scratch on it! I asked about it, and found out that it was on consignment for $3300.00. I wasn't going to buy it, but I wanted to come back and see it the next day and maybe give it a test drive, so I left a deposit on the bike so that they would hold it for 24 hours. The next day, my dad accompanied me back to the dealer to take a look at the FJ with me. He thought the same thing that I did: this bike is C-L-E-A-N. The thing that really surprised me is that my dad told me that if I wanted to buy it, he would store it for me and take care of it until I came back. He actually encouraged me to buy it! So, since it was still pretty close to my birthday, and I hadn't bought myself a present, I went ahead and bought it. And let me tell you, I'm happy I did! I had THE BEST time riding around Norfolk on that bike. I even took it to Raleigh, NC on the last weekend I was there to visit some friends and go to the NASCAR race in Martinsville, VA. I am in love with that bike. Clean, fast power, great looks, great handling, it's a great bike! I have some pictures of it that I will be plastering all over my web page soon, so I'm sure you'll see it! I love riding motorcycles, and riding my FJ rekindled a flame that has been more or less out since I have been living on Kwaj. I'm really looking forward to the day when I can ride every afternoon after work, and go for weekend trips in the mountains.
So, that's about it for this issue of the News. I have been playing with some new browser features, namely a tag called IFRAME that enables me to put a scrolling frame inside the existing frames of my main web page (the page with the Casa de Bryce graphic). If you look at my home page and see a white block that says "Today's News" and nothing else, let me know. You should be seeing a scrolling frame with some daily anecdotes and whatnot inside. If you are using an older version of Netscape or Internet Explorer, you might not see the frame, so if you should happen to want to help me troubleshoot this, go ahead and upgrade your browser software and see if the frame shows up. If you do anything else to fix it, let me know what you did. I'm kind of curious as to why some people see the IFRAME and some don't. Anyway, thanks for stopping by Casa de Bryce. Ciao!
11/28/99 - I know what you're saying, "It's been over a month and you haven't updated the News! What is going on down there?!??!" So I haven't exactly been what you would call "faithful" when it comes to updating my web page… so sue me! I've been busy, you know! Soccer season started recently, and I am once again fielding a team of misfits and morons to contend for our third consecutive Men's B Division championship. Slow Motion is the team name, and believe me, it fits! We just finished the first part of the season with a semi-respectable 4-3-1 record. We will play a couple more games to determine playoff standings, then hopefully we will be in the B Division championship game again. If you are cheering for us (and I know that you are), check back around the 20th of December for the season's final results.
Turkey Day on Kwajalein was fun this year, as always. I accompanied my friend Sophia over to our friends The Marks' house. Brad and Laura had invited about 15 friends over for Thanksgiving dinner, and we had a great time chatting and snacking on the patio before dinner. A guy named Tom Shahan had made a HUGE ham (which I enjoyed thoroughly!) and Laura had done up some really good Cornish game hens. There were 6 or 7 different kinds of dressing, as well as 10 or so side dishes. There was enough food there to feed a stadium full of people! We had a nice dinner, but I had partaken of the ham too heavily to enjoy dessert. Several people had brought pies, and just looking at them made my stomach ache! Laura and her friend Nancy packed up doggie bags for all the bachelors, and I left with more food than I ate, which I thought to be inconceivable at the time! Everyone had a good time at Brad and Laura's on Thanksgiving, and Sophia and I owe them a great big THANK YOU!
My parents are coming to visit me! Isn't that cool? I think so. They'll be arriving on Kwaj on the 21st of December, and staying until the 30th. I hoping to have a nice Christmas planned out for them by the time they get here, and I hope they are looking forward to relaxing, seeing the sights, and getting tanned! I still haven't gotten them a Christmas present though, and I'm having a hard time thinking of what to get them. Any ideas? If so, chuck me and e-mail and help me out!
For those of you who are interested, I updated my resume today. I am beginning the job-search process, and I thought that it was about time to add some pizzazz to the old resume. Since most of my job searching is done online, I usually just send the URL for my resume page to my prospective employers instead of some boring old text version. In other news, I found out why the Today's News section of my home page doesn't work for everybody. Evidently, the tag that I am using (IFRAME) is only supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer and not Netscape Navigator. Therefore, if you are using Navigator, then all you see is a white box with "Today's News" inside. I am still looking for a replacement for the IFRAME tag that will work with both browsers, but I haven't found one yet.
I think that's going to be it for this edition of the News. I know that you are hungry for more incessant chatter about the miniscule goings-on of my life, but I have to get to the store to buy some beer for a party this afternoon. Priorities, you know. TTFN!
2/24/00 – So here I am in the midst of yet another trip to the states. This trip has a decidedly different purpose, however. I took a couple weeks of vacation at the beginning of this trip in order to relax and do some skiing and snowboarding with my good buddy Robert and some other friends. We stayed in a really nice condo in Keystone, Colorado, and had a GREAT time. Robert and I took a snowboarding lesson the first day, and were cranking down the green (easy) runs in just a few short hours. I was very pleased with my ability to learn a sport which looks easy on TV but takes infinitely more skill and practice to master on the slopes. By the end of the trip, I was linking turns and screaming down the blue (intermediate) runs with very little fear of falling. I think the hardest thing about snowboarding is developing a sense of control over the board. With only one contact point with the snow, the balance and coordination that the sport requires can make beginners feel like they have no control over their speed or direction. In my experience, it just takes practice. While I will probably never completely give up skiing, I will definitely go snowboarding again as often as I can.
I know you are wondering what the alternate purpose of this trip is, and I am more than happy to tell you. I am leaving Kwajalein for good. That's right! I am finally making a clean break and going off on my own into the big scary world. I was fortunate to land a new job with a company in Alexandria, VA called Para-Protect, Inc. The company's primary business is to perform network and Internet security testing and configuration for other commercial and government businesses. The position that has been offered to me is that of Network Security Engineer. The salary is a little bit below average for that area of the country, but I am getting some stock options in what promises to be a very successful company, which I hope will more than make up for the lack of money in the short term. Para-Protect is a pre-IPO company, which means their stock is not yet publicly traded. I'm hoping that I can help the company grow and prosper, and that if they eventually IPO, I will make a big pile of money in the not-too-far-off future.
So where am I going to live? Well, over the past week, I have been in the Northern Virginia area shopping for cars and apartments and whatnot, and I am happy to say that I have secured a very nice 2BR, 2.5BA townhouse apartment in Falls Church, VA. The apartment is getting all new floor-to-floor carpets before I move in, and has a complete set of appliances, including washer and dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, and coffee pot. It's in a very nice location at the end of Madison Lane, which is off Columbia Pike between Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and Little River Turnpike (Route 236), near Bailey's Corners. The area behind the townhouses is all wooded, and there doesn't seem to be any reason for me to believe that it won't make an absolutely wonderful place to live. If you would like the address, just drop me a note at email@example.com and I will e-mail you my new address. I don't have a telephone number yet, and probably won't get one until the 1st of April.
So that's the scoop! I'm sorry that I haven't had a chance to update my News page in a while, but I'm sure you'll understand that I've been quite busy with interviewing for my new job and whatnot. I had a very pleasant visit from my parents over the Christmas holiday, and I think they really enjoyed the chance to tour the island of Kwajalein and to see where I've been living for the past 3.5 years! For those of you who are wondering, I never did get a chance to send out my annual Christmas calendars this year. I'm hoping that I will be able to get them out (VERY LATE!) when I get back to Kwaj around the first week or two of March. I apologize for dropping the ball on that subject, but again, I've been busy. Thanks to all the people who have been so supportive during this busy time in my life, especially my parents and my friend Sophia. Wish me luck in my new adventure!
3/8/2000 - Ok, so I haven't been what you might call CONSISTENT with this news thing, but I finally did away with that stupid IFRAME tag that would only work with certain browsers, and decided to just do it free-form.
I have updated the News page and it's corresponding links and sub-pages, and I have gotten rid of some of the other parts of my site that have gone largely unused since I posted them. I am going to be making some pretty drastic changes to my site sometime in the next month or so, mostly because I am making some pretty drastic changes to my position in life as well. Most of you who know me already know that I am leaving the island paradise of Kwajalein to return to the "Real World" and seek my fortune amongst the perils of the Internet Startup Companies. I will be moving to my new location on or about April 1st. If you would like to know my address (which I will only give out via e-mail), drop me a line and I will be happy to fill you in. I've made sure to describe my new place and job in some detail on the News page, so if you desire further information, you can find it there.
I also update my Links page with some new links, and some updated information about the existing links. If you have nothing better to do, then you might want to check it out.
3/23/2000 - Well, things are winding down out here in the middle of the Pacific. I've got about a week to go before I depart from Kwajalein for good, and I'm starting to count down the final remaining days. My stuff is all packed up and awaiting ocean-going transportation to Hawaii and points beyond, and the parade of well-wishers and friends wanting to hear about my new job and life is seemingly endless. It's reassuring to know that I will be missed so much, and to see the kind of impression that I have made on the people here. Kwajalein is a special place, and the friends I have made here are some of the best of my life. I wish there was a way to thank them all for the friendship and good times that we have shared over the past 3 1/2 years, and to let them know that they have made a big difference in my life. I hope to return to Kwajalein one day, but until then, I will cherish the memories.
Ok, enough of the sentimental crap. Here's the most recent scoop: I'll be flying to Honolulu from Kwajalein on March 29th, staying overnight in Hono, then taking the red-eye to Atlanta, and on to Washington DC, arriving at my new hometown on the 31st. Anyone who would like my new address and/or telephone number should drop me an e-mail and I'll be sure to send my new info along promptly. I'll be starting work at Para-Protect on April 3rd, so I will have only a few days to get myself situated in my new apartment and to get ready for the Big Time. My computer will be in-transit for a couple weeks, so I probably won't be updating my web page, but I will be checking my e-mail at every possible opportunity, so feel free to write if you are absolutely dying to hear from me.
That's all I can think of on short notice. As I said, it will probably be a while before I update my web page again, but check back in mid- to late-April for news about my new home and job. And be sure to wish me luck on my new adventure!
4/11/2000 - Woo Hoo!!! I'm finally here! I am officially a resident of the United States once again! It was a long, hard road, but I made it back to the good old US of A, and I am firmly entrenched in my new apartment and job.
So let's see... I've been here for about a week and a half, and I have bought a bed, dresser, couch, entertainment center, kitchen table and chairs, desk and desk chair, and about a hundred other things that I just CAN NOT live without. Nobody ever said that moving was cheap or easy, and I'm finding out the hard way! My apartment is starting to look pretty nice though. I've tried pretty hard to get quality stuff that matches and looks good, yet doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Let's face it, I'm not a millionaire... YET!
My job is going very nicely. The people I work with are all pretty cool. Most of the other engineers I work with are pretty close to my age, and all of them are REALLY smart, and we make a pretty fun group. A lot of the other engineers are Linux/Unix geeks, which is something I have had only limited exposure to, so I have some catching up to do. I have spent the past week and a half of work time learning about what the company does and teaching myself about Linux and some of the security testing techniques and tools that the engineers use. I am also working on developing a new service for the company to offer to its customers, but it's all very hush-hush, so I can't tell you about it!
Needless to say, I am quite happy here in the little town of Falls Church, Virginia. Almost everything has worked out in my favor so far, and I am hoping that it will continue to do so as I get settled in and make some friends. If any of you would like to know about appropriate house-warming gifts (I'm not being greedy! People have asked!), pretty much anything for the kitchen or bathroom would be GREATLY appreciated. I don't have much of either room, and I'm not the best person to ask about decorating, so I could use the help! BIG thanks to everyone who has expressed their good wishes and has helped me along the way. You are all invited to my place for a beer!
Enough about that crap... I know the real reason you are here: to hear about all the wonderful things that have been going on in my life! Right?!!?!? Well, let's see... I have split my time between two things these past few weeks: work and more work! I have been doing some really cool stuff at my new job, and have been eager to learn from the guys that have been doing the penetration tests for a while. As a result, I've been spending a LOT of time at the office! This past week, I was involved in a security test for a customer on the West coast that had me working from 10PM to 10AM everyday! YUCK! Luckily, it was only for a week, so it was somewhat bearable. In May, I'll be going to San Jose for a week or so to do more testing, which should be fun. I live minutes away from a city with hundreds of things to see and do, but I haven't seen the outside of my apartment, car, or office in the past two weeks! It's crazy!
So anyway, thanks for stopping by and checking out my new page. Let me know if you find any problems that need fixing, or if you think I need to change anything. I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the New and Improved Bryceman.com
5/14/2000 - Hey there, sportsfans! It's been a busy couple of weeks since my last edition of The News. I spent all of last week in San Jose with a bunch of other security engineers from Para-Protect performing an internal network security test for one of our Silicon Valley customers. We worked pretty hard, but also managed to make time for a little bit of fun and excitement. We finished up a little early one afternoon and took a road trip up to San Francisco, where we ate dinner at a terrific restaurant near Fisherman's Wharf called Scoma's. The food was GREAT, and we were lucky enough to get a table next to the window where we watched rowing teams practicing and California sea lions frolicking about. After dinner, we headed out in our rented minivan to explore the crazy streets of San Francisco and to try and find the famous Lombard Street. After about a million wrong turns, several redundant trips down Jones and Bush streets, and a brief interlude with a very effeminate hotel doorman, we managed to find Lombard Street. After such a long and arduous journey, we basked in the splendor of the picturesque avenue, pausing for a moment to reflect on the correlation of the hairpin turns and steep incline of the world-famous street to the dangerous journey that we lead through life before proceeding to drive down it six times, laughing hilariously and high-fiving each other like crazy the entire way! Needless to say, it was a good time. We made a stop by Ghiardelli's Square for some ice cream and chocolate goodies before finishing up our tour of San Fran with a drive through Market Street, Chinatown, and Union Square. I was the Designated Driver (read: sacrificial lamb) for our little excursion, and we managed to make it there and back without a scratch or dent, though I can't speak for the condition of the brake pads!
As if a week in San Jose and a whirlwind tour of San Francisco weren't enough, I also managed to squeeze in a trip to New Jersey this past weekend to attend the wedding of a family friend, Sean Tibbs, to his very attractive wife Maggie. The wedding was in Freeport, New Jersey at a very cute little church, and the reception was held at the Jersey shores, at a very nice place called Waters Edge. Sean and his family have been friends with my family since we lived in Maine, some 12 years ago. It was very nice to catch up with the Tibbs family, as well as some other mutual friends from ages past that came to the wedding. I was particularly impressed with the accomplishments of Dana Gray, a friend from Maine who now lives in St. Johnsbury, Vermont and is working as the General Manager of a newspaper in that area, The Caledonian Record. I had a great time talking with Dana and sharing the stories of the happenings of the past twelve years. It was a very nice wedding, and I had a great time. As soon as I get my hands on some pictures from the wedding, I'll be sure to post them in the Bryceman.com Picture Gallery.
More news to come in the next week or so, including the skinny on a possible trip to Stuttgart, Germany! Stay tuned for more info!
10/8/2000 - Surprise, surprise! Bryce is updating his web page! Can you believe it? It's only been four and a half months since my last edition of The News! I sincerely apologize to my many web-surfing friends and family for the long delay, but believe me when I tell you that so much has been going on in my life that I have had very few opportunities to sit down and write something worth reading! It was a crazy summer, filled with friends, family, fun, and foreign lands, but the stories of my many adventures have unfortunately been put aside in order for me to focus on keeping my career on track, and my social life alive. I've traveled halfway around the world and back, spent some very enjoyable time with a special friend, worked on some very interesting projects, and managed to get myself promoted to Senior Network Security Engineer in the process!
So... where to start? I guess I should begin with my trip to Kuwait. Yes, I said KUWAIT! In June, two of my coworkers and myself traveled to Kuwait City for nearly a month to do some work at the world's largest Islamic financial institution. I am planning on including many of the stories about my Kuwait trip in my soon-to-be-updated Places page, but I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the more interesting things about my experiences in the Middle East here. The first thing that most people think about when they consider the Persian Gulf is oil. The second thing is THE HEAT. Kuwait has plenty of both, and it was painfully obvious to both myself and my traveling companions that the only reason that people inhabit that part of the world is for the money that the "black gold" brings. In fact, one of the people we were working with told us, "It's too hot to live, but too much money to leave." If it weren't for the incredible wealth that comes from the oil producted in Kuwait, I doubt that anyone would choose to live there. It was HOT. How hot? Try 130+ degrees during the hottest part of the day! It was completely unbearable to go outside during midday, and the air was so dry that a human being wouldn't last more than one day without water. Not to worry for the Kuwaiti's though, they make so much money off of their sole export that they can afford to ship in just about anything they need, and usually in massive quantities! Mercedes', Porche's, BMW's, and Jaguar's ruled the roads, and massive shopping centers (called "souks") were around every corner, offering the very best of international fashions, jewelry, and electronics. We took advantage of the souks several times, and I bought a very nice gold bracelet, some gold necklaces, some Pakistani and Indian fabrics (for my female friends!), and some very cheap software on some of our shopping trips. Probably the strangest thing about Kuwait was all the American restaurants. We ate most of our meals at Applebees, TGI Fridays, Chili's, Fuddruckers, Hardees, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut. We tried to find some Middle Eastern food a couple times, but it was explained to us that because most of the Middle East is a desert, much of the food and food styles are imported from other countries. One of the most entertaining things about Kuwait was driving. The roads in Kuwait are lined and signed very well, but those markings go largely ignored by most drivers! It was not uncommon to see cars zipping along at twice the speed limit or faster, running red lights, and zipping down side streets with great abandon. Even the most dangerous of maneuvers were merely commonplace for the bold Kuwaiti drivers. I drove for most of our time there, and my coworkers Dave and Rocky both told me that I must have found my true homeland, because I was just as crazy as the rest of maniacs on the road! We got into some scary situations a couple times, but my lead foot and savvy skills kept us alive and moving!
After Kuwait, Dave and I took a long layover in Frankfurt, Germany, taking a few days off to rent a car and drive up the Rhein (or Rhine) River Valley to a quaint little town called Bacharach. It was my first time in Europe (Dave's second), and I was instantly enchanted by the hillside vineyards, half-timbered houses, and cobblestone streets. We only spent three days in Germany, but we had a blast, touring several castles, drinking German beer, meeting other groups of touring Americans, shopping for souvenirs, and taking pictures like crazy! I'll write more about our adventures in Germany on my Places page (hopefully), but I have to tell you about two specific things that happened in Germany that make me laugh every time I think of them:
On our first night in Germany, Dave and I ate a very nice meal at the restaurant of the Rhein Hotel (where we were staying. After dinner, we ventured out into the streets of Bacharach to see the sights and maybe find a bar to hang out in. AS we were walking the streets, we heard the sound of singing, followed by applause and laughter from what sounded like a moderately large group of people. Dave looked at me and said, "Wherever that sound is coming from, we need to go there!" We tried to follow the sound through the narrow streets, but every time we thought we found the source of the sound, it would change direction and sound like it was coming from behind us. After 3 or 4 minutes of running around the streets, we were both simultaneously perplexed and disoriented. How could the sound be changing location? We look at each other with amazement for a moment, then heard another bout of cheering and laughter coming down from above us. We turned and looked up at the mountain that towered above the town, and saw a magnificent castle with its windows glowing from the lights inside. "That's it!" Dave cried, and we took off running up the hill towards the castle. We found a narrow footpath that switchbacked its way up the mountain, and ran up it in search of the fun that was sure to lie ahead. We arrived at the impressive castle out of breath and sweating like an offensive lineman in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. We entered the castle courtyard through a massive oak door and a narrow stone passageway, only to find a group of high-school aged kids milling around and laughing. The singing and cheering had stopped on our way up the mountain, and we were too late to see who was responsible. We sat on the rock wall overlooking the town to catch our breath, and asked an American couple about the singing. The couple explained that the kids in the courtyard were part of a traveling choral group that was touring Europe for the summer, and that they had given an informal concert that evening, and were staying at the castle, which had been converted into a hostel. We were disappointed to have missed the performance, but we chatted with the couple for a little while and traded stories about traveling. While we were chatting, a couple of the kids came over and I started chatting with them about where they were from and how exciting it was to be seeing Europe. An hour or so passed as we talked with our new friends, and then Dave and I decided that we had better head back down the mountain to our hotel. We said our goodbyes and head back down the stone passageway to the castle door, which we found to be locked. "No problem," I told Dave, "we'll just find the castle keep and get him to let us out." Or so I thought. When we found the innkeeper and told him of our dilemma, he informed us that the castle door is locked promptly at 10:30pm, and that if we wanted to leave, we would have to go down into the bar and have a few beers while we waited for the barkeeper to close the bar and finish her shift and let us out on her way home. Obviously, this was not a problem! We went down to the bar, where we found many of the members of the choral group and their chaperones sitting having a drink and a good time. As Dave and I enjoyed a cold beer, one of the kids I had spoken to earlier spotted me and ran over to the director of the choral group. She whispered something to him, at which he got up, came over to Dave and I, introduced himself, and chatted for a few minutes. After we told him what an ordeal we had been through in order to climb the mountain and hear his group perform, only to miss them by a few minutes, he smiled, winked at me, and called the kids together. "These two gentlemen have traveled from Washington DC to Kuwait to Germany" he told them, "and they ran all the way up this mountain to hear us sing, but missed the performance. What do you say we give them what they came for?" All the kids cheered and assembled around our table in a half-circle. Then, much to our delight, Dave and I were treated to a private performance by the very talented group, which was a jazzy song made up of several improvisations and solos. It was fantastic, a memory that I won't soon forget. After the impromptu performance, Dave and I gave them a standing ovation, snapped a few photographs with the kids, and never stopped smiling.
The other crazy thing that happened in Germany involved our car, a rented Fiat Punto. The Punto is a small car, but was just big enough to fit Dave and myself and all our luggage inside. We parked the car at the hotel each night that we stayed there, and on the morning we were to leave, I got an early phone call from the innkeeper asking if I could move the car, as it was blocking someone else it. I got up, bleary eyed and tired from the night before, and stumbled out to the small parking lot to move the car. I nosed the car down the narrow streets of Bacharach, looking for a way around the block and back to the hotel. I turned into a narrow alley, which passed underneath the train tracks. It was very narrow, but I thought that I could probably make it through, and I saw a main road on the other side, so I figured that it must look narrower than it really is, because how else could those other cars get through?. :-) As I contemplated the passage, an older German couple strolled through the underpass and saw me waiting to go through. The gentleman looked at my car, then put his hands out and touched either wall with his arms not-quite-all-the-way stretched out. He then put his hands close together to signify that the passage might be too narrow for me to negotiate, and smiled and shook his head. Well, THIS stupid American was not about to let some German guy tell me that I wasn't going to squeeze my tiny car through THAT particular passage, so I revved the engine, waved at the German guy, and started through the underpass. As I nosed the car into the slender tunnel, I saw that there were only a few inches of clearance on either side of the car. "It's going to be tight" I told myself as I moved ever further into the opening. I looked back at the German guy and saw that he was shaking his head and laughing at the "crazy tourist" in the lime-green car. Indignant, I pulled even farther into the passageway, at which time BOTH of the side mirrors struck the walls and folded back towards the car. Oops. I heard the mirrors scratching against the walls of the tunnel as I paused for a moment to consider the fact that I MIGHT be wrong. Again, I glanced back at "Frau Heckler", only to see a mocking look on his face and a huge smile of satisfaction. Well, my momentary pause was enough to allow the Punto to roll most of the way into the tunnel, firmly wedging the car inside the passage, both doors held tight by the stone walls. I was a little more than embarrassed. I floored the gas pedal, popped the clutch, and was treated to the screeching sound of grating metal and plastic as I forced the car through the passage. As I came out, I noticed that I hadn't reached the road that I had seen through the tunnel. I was on a sidewalk. I had just driven through a passageway meant for bicycles and strollers, not Fiat's! Oops again. I guess the German guy was right after all! I drove down the sidewalk, turned on to the street, and drove back to the hotel. I parked the car and went back to the room, where I told Dave of my tiny mishap. Dave instantly jumped up and ran outside to see what had happened to the car, and I followed. When I got outside, I was treated to the sight of Dave rolling around on the ground holding his stomach and laughing hilariously and pointing at the sides of the car, which were largely devoid of paint. He got quite a kick out of it, let me tell you. I had taken out insurance on the car, so it didn't cost me anything, but having to listen to Dave laugh at me and mock my driving skills was punishment enough. Dave and I had traveled together once before (on my trip to San Francisco) and we have developed a very tight friendship through our many adventures together. The three days we spent in Germany sealed it. Every time I see him, I have to smile about some of the things I have been through with him, including a very narrow tunnel in Bacharach, Germany.
Ok, enough story time. Here's the REAL news: I got promoted! Hooray! I finally received my much-anticipated promotion to Senior Network Security Engineer, which happened in late September. Along with the increase in position came a nice chunk of stock options, a raise, and my very own office in our new office space. Para-Protect recently moved to a brand-new 50,000+ square foot office space in Centerville, Virginia, which was custom-built for the company. It is a drastic improvement in working conditions, and fantastic place to showoff to customers and investors. It's a big step for the company, and hopefully it will allow us to position ourselves better in what is becoming a very competitive market space. Unfortunately, I won't get to enjoy the new office for quite some time. I am currently on an assignment that has me traveling to New York City every week, and spending my weekends doing laundry back home in Falls Church. I'm not sure how long this trip is going to keep me occupied, but it could be as long as a month or more. It's good work, but it's hard to live at a hotel in a strange city and give up my social life. I have been dating a fantastic gal named Rhea, who is a lawyer in DC, and it's tough to be away from her every week when our relationship is just getting going. I recently attended Rhea's sister Jeanine's wedding in Daytona Beach, Florida, where I got to meet most of her family, and had a great time. Congratulations Jeanine and Ronnie! I also had several friends visit during the course of the summer, including my buddy Joe from high school, my friend Sophia from Kwajalein, and Amanda, another island friend who is now living in Maryland.
Anyway, that's the news for now. I'll try and be better about updating my page, but I'm not making any promises! Thanks for being patient and forgiving! :-) I wish I could write more about everything that has happened this summer, but I just don't have the time! I need to finish my laundry and get packed for NYC. Thanks for stopping by!
-- The Bryceman
3/2/2001 - I guess there's no hiding it: I have been paying less attention to this web page than Bill Clinton paid to Socks the Cat when Monica was in the Whitehouse! What can I say? I'm a busy guy! If I wasn't, this page wouldn't be worth visiting, now would it? :-)
On to the news! When I left you last, I was travelling back and forth to New York City on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, that little adventure lasted a heckuva lot longer than I would have liked! I ended up doing the weekly commute to NYC for nearly 4 MONTHS. After one month, I was a little tired; after two months, I was sick of it; after three months, I was at the end of my rope; and after the fourth month, I quit my job. Yup, that's right! I quit my job! I finally decided that I deserved to be treated better than Para-Protect was treating me, and I started looking for a new job. The real back-breaker was that after all of the hassle that I put up with to make the company over $300,000 in fees, I was denied a raise that was previously promised to me, and I was strung along for WEEKS, waiting to hear about another raise that never came. When I talked about my situation with some of my contemporaries, I realized that I was a fool for staying with Para-Protect as long as I did, and that the company's supposedly bright future was not as bright as the company's overconfident management would have everyone believe. I mean, what good are 10,000 shares of stock in a company that never makes it to their IPO??? Not only do I doubt the company's ability to make it all the way to an IPO, but I also saw a lot of weekness in their management structure, business practices, and product offerings. In the 10 months that I worked for them, they had AT LEAST 5 different VP's come and go, they lost a round of funding and overextended themselves into an office space that cost more per month than their various revenue streams were producing, and they made a decision to change their entire package of service offerings to focus on a "Managed Service Provider" profile, in which they were nearly a year behind their closest competition! Is this the profile of a growing, successful company? I think not!
So, after much deliberation, I stuck my neck back out into the job market, and started looking for new positions. As luck would have it, the opportunities came along fast and furiously. Almost immediately, I received a job offer from the NYC customer that I had been working at. It was a GREAT offer (nearly a $50,000 raise!), but the spectre of living in NY or NJ was overwhelming. I just couldn't see myself commuting to work everyday with all those millions of people, and paying twice as much in rent as I am paying now for a place half as big as my current place! In the end, quality of living won out, and I turned down the NYC job. My next opportunity came from Cisco's Research Triangle Park campus near Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. It was also a nice raise, and the quality of living would have been TERRIFIC, but the job would have limited the scope of my experience to just a few products, and would have meant six months of uncertainty before I could be assured of a permanent position. The Cisco job was truly a great opportunity, and I ALMOST took it, but I really didn't want to leave the DC area (for various reasons) and I felt that the chance I was taking with the six-month trial period was a little too risky in this tumultuous time for tech companies. End result: I turned down the Cisco job.
With those two "big fishes" set free, I turned to a recruiter that I had worked with to get the Para-Protect job, and that specialized in high-tech jobs in the DC area. Before long, I had mapped out a couple good-looking opportunities, and was interviewing actively. The job that the recruiter was pushing the hardest was for a small startup company that is trying to setup a system for using online resources to facilitate commercial real estate transactions. They had money ($40 million in backing!) and seemed to be actively building out their technology teams. I was so excited to find an attractive opportunity that wouldn't require me to move, that I breezed through the interview process and accepted their offer before I had even found out what I was going to be doing! As luck would have it, the position turned out to be a bad fit. In the first two weeks, I determined that I wasn't going to be happy in that position, and that I might have been a little hasty in accepting the job.
So, I let my new employer know that the position and I were a bad fit for each other, and that I was going to pursue other opportunities. Once again, I was looking around for jobs. This time, I started going through the classified ads in the Washington Post. Again, the pace was quick, and I found myself with a scheduled telephone interview only one day after sending out my resume. The telephone interview led to an afternoon in-person interview, which lasted FOUR AND HALF HOURS! The next day, I drove over and picked up an offer letter, and signed it! A bit hasty again? I think not. This time, it's a PERFECT MATCH. The company: Network Solutions (a VeriSign company), and the position: Senior Security Engineer. After more than two months of upheaval, I have found a terrific position, with a prestigious company, where I will be working with the people and products that interest me the most! It's perfect! I can't wait to start my new job. I have a GREAT feeling about the company and the position, and I have a VERY positive attitude going into the job, which is definitely going to help! I start my new job as Senior Security Engineer for Network Solutions on Monday, 5 March 2001. Wish me luck!
You know, tïhe NYC experience taught me a lot (mainly that I would never want to live in the NYC area!) but it also allowed me to experience some very unique things. For one thing, I got to travel to Vienna, Austria and London, England during my stint with the NYC customer. The Vienna trip was short (4 days), and the London trip was even shorter than that, but both trips allowed me to see places I had never seen before, meet some very interesting people, and get a taste for whether or not I would ever want to come back and visit those places again. Another experience that the NYC customer gave me was the experience of working for a fast-paced e-business company where each and every customer contract could mean the success or failure of the business. The company that I was working for sold multi-million dollar information systems and software to international banks for use in online trading systems, and the sheer amount of hardware, software, and effort that went into each one of these installations was enough to dazzle some of the most tech-savvy people I know. Instead of working with one or two firewalls, I was working with 50+ firewalls. Instead of 10 or 20 routers and switches, there were several hundred network devices in the overall scheme of the networks that the company and its customers owned and were installing. It was simply amazing to be working with all that hardware and software, and to see the things that I was working with act as part of an e-business engine that was capable of generating millions of dollars in business every day. I may not have liked commuting to NYC every week, but I was more than happy to gain the experience that the job provided, and I have opened my eyes to the reality of how important the role of technology is in the overall scheme of things in today's business world. It's a whole new world, and instead of assisting businessed, technology is now the FOCUS of many businesses, and I am in the position to ride the wave of the future ever higher. It's something that I've known for a long time, but prior to working in NYC, it had never been laid out before me in such an obvious manner before.
I have to relate a particularly funny thing that happened to me while I was in Vienna, Austria. I had been jet-lagged pretty badly after a mostly sleepless flight accross "The Big Pond", and an afternoon nap had left me awake and active at 10pm, Vienna time. After a nice dinner with one of my travelling companions, I set out to walk the streets of Vienna and see what I could see. After 30 minutes or so of walking around, I saw a neon sign that was flashing the word "Bar" in big red letters. Figuring that this was the international sign for "place to get a beer", I stopped and went inside. The first thing that struck me about the place was that is was very ornate and decorative, compared to a bar in the US. The dark red velvet walls and matching carpet complemented an ornate brass and dark-wood bar, and the statues and decorations around the small room were very Victorian and elaborate. The second thing that struck me about the place was that there were a LOT of very attractive women sitting towards the end of the bar, and they were scantily dressed for a cold evening in December! Figuring that it was some kind of "hostess bar" or strip club, I thought I could stick around and have a beer before departing to look for someplace a little less risqué. After hanging my coat up and stumblingly ordering a beer in bad German, I sat at the bar and tried to look casual. The barmaid drifted to the end of the bar where all the ladies were and said something in German to them that made them all perk up and look over at me. Before long, a very attractive lady came over to me and introduced herself as Larisa. In halting English, she explained to me that she spoke some English, and that she was originally from Russia. We sat and chatted (difficultly) for several minutes before she offered to "show me the rest of the house." I agreed, and she led me by the hand down a very nice circular staircase. Larisa then proceeded to show me the "rooms of the house", which were little more than nicely-decorated bedrooms with built-in showers. She explained that the room cost in the area of 1500-3500 Austrian shillings for the champagne, and 300 shillings for "the present". Being as thickheaded as I am, I inquired as to what "the present" consisted of. Larisa smiled, winked at me, and said "You know, the present" while rubbing her body up against mine! As you could probably guess, I got the hint REAL QUICK. I had ventured into a brothel! Blushing severely, I thanked Larisa for the lovely tour, informed her that I was not interested in purchasing either champagne or "the present" and nudged her in the direction of the stairs that led back to the bar. Seeing that I wasn't going to participate in the business of the house, Larisa gladly escorted me back up stairs. The coup de etat came when, halfway up the stairs, she paused and opened a hidden door in the wall that led to another one of the "rooms of the house", only this one was entirely decorated in black rubber and leather! After muttering an embarrassed "No, thank you" to Larisa's question regarding whether or not I would prefer the "S and M room", we went back upstairs and I finished my beer with trembling hands! Not wanting to stay for another, I thanked bother Larisa and the barmaid for their hospitality, tipped them both generously, and hurried out of the "bar"! It was my first, last, and only experience with a legal bordello, and I still chuckle to myself when I think about how naïve I was!
My last comment for this issue of The News is about where I spent the last weekend of February 2001: the Carnival celebration in New Orleans, Louisiana, popularly known as Mardi Gras. My good friend Joe Waters has been living in Baton Rouge, LA for the last 5 years, and had told me about going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year, and about what fun it is. I had been to visit Joe once before, and we spent the weekend in New Orleans, which had given me a taste of the celebratory atmosphere of the city, and I was itching for more. So, Joe and I planned it out, reserved a room in the French Quarter, and joined up with a couple other buddies to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans. There are a hundred stories from this weekend, most of which involve beer, beads, and half-clothed women, but I haven't recovered sufficiently to write them all down. Maybe in the next issue of The News... Suffice it to say that we had a GREAT time, and that I'm glad I didn't have to go to work for a few days afterwards!
Thanks for stopping by! -->The Bryceman