Thursday, March 15, 2007

Covington, KY and Snow Pictures

So my job took me to Covington, Kentucky last week for the annual SIGCSE (Special Interest Group Computer Science Education) conference sponsored by the ACM. Overall, the conference was pretty good! Everything was well-organized, my room at the Holiday Inn was top-notch, and a good time was had overall. I traveled down to Kentucky with my co-worker and his family, and I believe that we bonded a little bit more--six hours in a car will do that to you, I guess! For me, the highlight of the entire conference was touring the little city of Covington, which is just about five minutes outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. It struck me as a once thriving town that fell into disarray and is now seeing new growth as a center for conferences and other events. And with at least one hotel on nearly every block, plus a conference center (where the conference was held), it's no wonder that this little town is a popular attraction for conference goers!

We left for the conference on Wednesday morning, but we almost didn't make it due to the massive amount of snow that was dumped upon the state. Readers, I tell you, I'm sick of this snow thing! Since I returned from Spain, I've seen snow practically every single day! Thank God I invested in snow tires, otherwise I'm sure I would've had an accident. By the way, a word of advice to all the Subaru and other 4-wheel drive vehicle owners out there: Just because your vehicle has all these wonderful features does not mean you are able to drive on snow and ice as if it where dry pavement! Lord knows how many accidents I've seen in the past few weeks, many of which were Subarus and other models of 4-wheel drive vehicles.

As I final addition to this post, I figured I'd leave you all with a few images of the horrible snow that we've been seeing the last few weeks. The first two images show the roads as I was driving to work somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00am a few weeks ago. Notice the snow on the ground. Now imagine that much of this snow sits on top of a layer of ice, resulting in vehicle skids on multiple occasions. Now imagine that on the morning that we left for the conference the snow was even a matter of fact, we got over six or more inches in one day! The final picture show some poor kid who was driving a little too fast with tires that were a little too worn for the snow and ice on the road. Fortunately, no one was hurt or killed; however, this is only one of three or four accidents I had seen that day. Until the next post, stay warm and drive safe!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Baltimore: The City of Bad Service, Poor Blacks, and the Inner Harbor

Yesterday I returned from a weekend trip to Baltimore with Pebbles. She had a conference and I was freeloading in the hotel room. The amusing thing about Baltimore is that people seem to like giving me free stuff whenever I buy food. For instance, I went to Dunkin Donuts to pick up breakfast on Saturday morning and the two Indian women that run the store kept looking at me and smiling and talking back and forth in Urdu or Hindi. Eventually they process my order (6 donuts and a medium latte) and I talked with the younger of the two for a few moments about my habit of stealing pens that I'm trying to break out of. Eventually, I made my way back to the hotel to have breakfast with Pebbles and update my account spreadsheet. When I checked the sales receipt, I realized that they had only charged me for three donuts and a small latte! In fact, it wasn't even a tasted more like (somewhat more expensive) chai tea.

The second episode happened on Saturday night, when we went to a little restaurant in the downtown area called Copra. The restaurant boasts a Caribbean-influenced fine dining experience; however, it is a bit pricey, although the food is absolutely wonderful. After being subjected to bad service all weekend, it was refreshing to find a friendly waiter who actually seemed to care about serving his customers! Of course, I paid the man a compliment on his service...however, I had no idea that the guy was gay until Pebbles pointed this out to me. Homeboy's face suddenly turned beet red and he became flustered to the point where he could barely speak. The result was that neither of us were charged for drinks or coffee, and my girlfriend now firmly believes that I flirt with anyone regardless of color or gender!!! (i.e. I'm such a whore!)

The third episode of "freeness" that I'm going to mention happened on the Friday night that I actually got to the hotel. I was tired from the long day at work, and wasn't much in the mood for walking around Baltimore to find a good eating spot. We decided to have dinner at a little restaurant inside of the hotel called Shula's. Our waiter, who was black just like me, was a complete asshole. I don't know if it was because I was hanging with a white female, or if the fact that I was wearing my baggy jeans and Timberland boots that I chose to wear to dinner made it appear as if I didn't have any money, or whatever other reason, but this guy was terrible when it came to serving us. He made at least four mistakes while serving us! Firstly, he ignored the fact that we needed refills because he was too busy sucking up to the "rich" white people in expensive suits (apparently, when you're white and wear a suit, people automatically think you have money). Secondly, he completely ignored the fact that we ordered appetizers and didn't seem to be bothered about it. Thirdly, he brought a drink for Pebbles that had a straw still in the paper wrapping stuck inside the glass. Fourthly, he brought our food out late and cold. As a result of the straw incident and the poor service, we ended up getting our drinks for free; however, I should have still reported him to management.

The fact that this guy was so arrogant when it came to serving people from his own race disturbed me greatly. It shows that many African-Americans still play up to this "yes massa" stereotype and, as much as they may dislike or talk badly about white folks, they still play up to them. The worst part is that when they see someone of their own color sitting in a position that they perceive to be higher than theirs, they immediately dislike the person and treat them as second class citizens. Black people, wake up! The other minorities are in a better position today because they stick together...look at the Koreans and Chinese. That is why there is so much poverty in the city of Baltimore. You see so many homeless people, all of them black, all of them strung out on some drug or another. Crack, heroine, cocaine, it runs the city.

Let me not rant about the bad things in Baltimore right now, after all, we did go for a mini-vacation of sorts. The Inner Harbor is a beautiful place indeed. Just a few minutes walk from our hotel room, it boasts many attractions...including the best aquarium in the United States, a maritime museum, and some of the most exotic restaurants you can imagine. We toured a Navy ship that was used in the Civil War (the USS Constellation I believe it was), watched a street performer juggle various items while standing on a skateboard placed atop a bucket, and viewed the sunset on the harbor from the deck of a water taxi.

As I held Pebbles close to me (partially because I romantic like that, but also because we were both freezing) and we watched the sun go down together, I reflected on my life thus far, and all the things I have accomplished, and have yet to accomplish. My life may be summed up as a beautiful, awkward existence filled with equal measures of laughter and tears, and much potential that is gradually becoming realized. Yes, I have accomplished quite a bit for my age, and I'm still working at achieving even more success. But the important thing is that I am happy.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Let's try this again

It's been a long time since I visited the blogsphere. A lot has changed since then. My boy Mad Bull has moved his blog totally over to Wordpress. My good friend Dr. D. has stopped posting on a daily basis. Lots of new folks have joined the Caribbean blogging community and a few have made their exits.

Many things have changed since I've last updated this blog. Job-wise, I still teach; however, I'm now a software engineer working on a NASA project and am currently in the process of starting a small software development firm. Yes, the money seems to be flowing a little bit more these days and success is coming at a nearly overwhelming pace; however, I'm still not where I aspire to be just yet. God willing, 2007 will be the year to make big things happen!

Relationship-wise , things are going great with Pebbles and we're stronger than ever! I even managed to make the trip to Spain to spend Christmas and New Years with her parents and sister. In fact, I had such a wonderful time with her famiy and friends that I'm planning to visit again in the summertime!

Anyhow, I just got back from a conference in Baltimore and am getting ready to go to another one in Kentucky later this week. Let me know what you have been up to!