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19 June 2007   What to Do? (T-73)

It seems every time I have a clear path ahead of me, that unexpected bend in the road knocks me off track.

Like I talked about last week, I had my first interview with Oracle - and while I haven't heard anything about that in definitive terms, other stuff has served to make me confused. First, today I met with my realtor Stacy. She didn't have exactly happy news to tell me - but it's not entirely surprising news either. Basically it comes down to the fact that I'll barely be able to break even if we sell the house for about $12K more than I bought it for, because in the year and a half I've lived here, I've paid very little towards principal. Not good for me with respect to trying to make much money come selling time. So now that really makes me have to consider - do I stay another year, pay more principal, and hope that the market turns around so I can possibly sell next year? But if that's the path to go down, then I need to find a job here...and who knows how much I can get for one out here? Then I'm headed out to Chicago in a few weeks for a hiring conference... I'm SOOOOO overwhelmed / confused / scared / undecided.

So that's my dilemma for the time being in the big picture. In the little picture, today I actually was tasked with stuff to do and it felt nice to be needed again. Truly needed. I can't wait to have a real job again.

And finally, I've resumed putting up more pictures of the Europe trip - although I'm drained after this last page, which is of Day 5 while we were in Paris. There were a ton of pictures. And the next day has just as much, which means it may still be a while till I get that done. Anyways, that's the latest. Oh yeah, I drank a lot on Sunday and didn't hike Pikes Peak. But maybe next week?


12 June 2007   KD & Eric Got Married! (T-80)

Those crazy kids tied the knot on Sunday Afternoon!

And I've got the pictures to prove it! See Below. You'll notice that it was a beautiful day and Jeff did an awesome job marrying them. And I did an awesome job escorting people out of the background - as you'll see in pics below, there's a terraced rock step area behind the 'altar'. There were a few people back there just chilling, which is all well and good, but for background to wedding pictures, you want there not to be guys in FUBU shorts and stuff. Just call me the Bouncer.

10 June 2007 - Mr. & Mrs. Pilarczyk's Marriage

Susan and Jeff before the wedding
Jeff's parking pass for being a minister!
The gazebo where the wedding took place
The groom awaits
Another view of the gazebo
Picture of the lagoon
Eric talking to KD on the phone
Waiting for the ceremony to begin
Susan and Jeff practice for the ceremony
Who invited the male models?
Susan and Me
Susan and Jeff
Jeremy, Me, Dave, Susan and Jeff before the ceremony
The minister in repose
The gazebo was getting crowded
Moments before the bride appeared
Hark, there she is!
KD approaches the bridge
Closer now with bouquet in hand
Ready for the wedding to begin
RJ (KD's brother) presents the wine box
It's a box with a bottle of wine, 2 glasses and notes from each other about the good stuff. To be used in case of emergency.
KD and Eric
Eric hammers the first nail into the box (sts)
KD seals the deal
Holding the hammer together. How sweet.
The next 10 or so pics are better with sound... but it's of the vows and the rings
The first kiss as a married couple
Facing the crowd
Closeup of the wine box
There's the happy couple
Dave and Jeremy in the Capt Morgan pose
Couple shot
There's the crowd
More of the couple
Jeff, Eric and KD
KD & Eric
The couple with the minister
Let the excitement begin!
Jeff shows them their displayable wedding certificate
Jeff, the minister, signs the actual marriage license and certificate
Pic of the Little London shoppe wedding cake

I wanted to get these pictures up sooner than later - my track record on big amounts of photos being posted is not exactly good. But I got some email feedback from Heather today and that was motivation enough to get me moving. Now I just need to finish my two-month-old Europe photos.

Quick News Update:

- Jeff installed (I helped a little) my new Alpine iPod stereo into my car - it's ridiculously awesome. Still have to finish the install by properly running the cable to the new CD changer; hopefully Jeremy will help me with that.

- Speaking of Jeremy, he's going to be moving back to Illinois in a few weeks because he has an awesome new job and it'll be great for his career. Sucks though - he's my best friend out here and it will be pretty damn sad to lose him. It's kind of a big reason why...

- ...I've realized I don't want to stay here anymore after I'm done with the military. I seriously love my house, but that's not a good enough reason to want to stay in a city. I'll miss the friends I've made here, but I've long since been a fifth wheel here so it's necessary to move. Now, where am I going? Don't know. I'm open to going to many different places, include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio/Austin, or Chicago. I am planning to put my house on the market though - hopefully it'll sell. Guess what, though?

- I had my first phone interview finally, with Oracle. That job would be the one in Minneapolis for a year, and Atlanta afterwards. Honestly, I think I did really really well on the interview. Definitely, going to TAP was extremely helpful in preparing for interviewing skills as well as the many books I've read on career changing. Preparation has proven to be quite the right thing to do when trying to approach the unknown. Anyways, I didn't get an offer just yet but it sounds like it is a very good likelihood that I'd get it in a month or so. So we'll see.

- I did just get off the phone with my original recruiter at Bradley-Morris and I think I will sign up for the Chicago hiring conference in July. I got some un-asked for flattery from him - he said that everyone he talked to out here in Colorado Springs all knew me and had nothing but good things to say about me. That was nice to hear. Maybe he's lying, but I'll prefer to believe him.

- I think I'll be hiking Pikes Peak this Sunday. Wish me luck.

And that's the most recent stuff to talk about. Hope you're all doing good out there in the rest of the country and the world.

LATE UPDATE: I've been creating more of my old Hobie tapes as iPod/iTunes playlists and during this process I rediscover a bunch of the music that I totally was addicted to back in high school and college. So tonight I was working on my Pioneer Tape #3 and had to rip a few more of my CDs and while flipping through one of my huge binders, I saw my Oingo Boingo CD collection and paused: Holy Crap, I hadn't listened to them in forever. So I rip all their albums right then and there and immediately was brought back to high school times. Hell, even now I am dancin' around to these amazingly good songs. My favorite after all this time is still "No One Lives Forever", specifically off the Boingo Alive 2CD set. What an amazing recording. I highly suggest you dig out your Boingo CDs and enjoy the 80s and early 90s all over again. You won't regret it. And play NOLF for me, won't you?


3 June 2007   Legs Hurt (T-89)

It would probably have something to do with the fact that I bicycled down Pikes Peak this past Saturday morning!

My dad saw in one of those tourism guides this really cool 'Thing-To-Do' in Colorado Springs: Bike down Pikes Peak. Here's the website link for the company that does it (www.bikithikit.com), because if you really want to bike down the mountain, you have to do it through this company or one just like it, as special permits are required. Those of you who don't feel like visiting the website though, here's the scoop: you meet at this place in Old Colorado City at 6:15am and after signing away all the waivers, getting fitted for a helmet, and getting some grub, you pile in their van (which has the bikes you use on top) and drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak (weather permitting) via Pikes Peak Highway. You definitely want to do the morning run (a morning and an afternoon one are offered), as afternoons here on the Front Range are notorious for turning stormy like clockwork at right around 3:30pm. We had a small group (only 3 of us) and there were 3 staff members to go with us, so it was kind of nice. Apparently once summer vacation gets into full swing that's when it's super packed. Anyways, our weather was tremendous this Saturday morning. Crystal clear skies and beautiful temperatures. Melissa, Sara, and Daniel drove us up the road, which is actually quite a scary ride, especially in a big ol' van. There are numerous points on the drive up there when it's a nice big drop off off to the side and as we were heading up the mountain, I realized the road was really steep in most places, especially as you really head up the mountain. The views were astounding though. Finally, around 7:45 or so, we were at the top of the mountain and after a few briefings on safety and operation, we were on our way. The van follows you from behind so as to block any cars from running you off the road, which is very nice. I ended up going the slowest because honestly I haven't been on a bike in forever and when you're that high up and on that steep of a road, definitely nerves came into play. By the end I was going faster, but at that top part, where you're freezing, the wind is blowing like hell, and the road is filled with bumps and it's really not even a road at many points, it's a tad overwhelming. But those were the only things I could even think about calling concerns as the adventure was amazing! You can see forever. It's invigorating being out there before most people are up yet on a Saturday. The road was very sparse with traffic at the top. Closer to the fishing reservoirs it definitely got more crowded, but still, you're immersed in such amazing natural scenery you don't care. And all you hear, while you're FLYING down the road, especially in the last third of the ride, is the wind. It's awesome. Dad and I definitely had an awesome time. The pictures below can speak to the amazing journey it is - and if you ever have the inkling and the opportunity to do this, don't even hesitate. Sign up. The fee covers the bike and helmet rental, the fee to get on the Pikes Peak highway, free food and snacks before and during, and a free lunch at the end of the ride at the Wines of Colorado restaurant, which is definitely a great way to end the trip. So do it!!!!

2 Jun 2007 - Bike Riding down Pikes Peak!

Here's the route you drive up and bicycle down
A pretty sweet stitched together photo from the summit - right side had a bad line though!
Dad at the Railway summit
Me giving the thumbs up
Blurry pic of the van at the top
Another group of folks who were getting ready to snowboard the mountain
Typical Tourist...
Here's the beginning/end of the road!
At the first stop - on the left is Teresa (the other guest) and Daniel (our lead guide)
The three guides, Daniel, Sara, and Melissa (who did van driver duty today)
Me at the second stop
Awesome view, indeed. And look at the scenery.
Me and Dad
Amazing views could be had whenever we stopped. That's the Springs in the background.
That reservoir in the middle of the pic is Crystal Lake Reservoir. A few rows down we'll be riding along the top edge of it.
My Dad is raring to go
Our first hill (which isn't talked about until you're in the van!) - Daniel and I termed this one Cheeseburger Hill
It got that name because that's what we all were going to eat at the end of the ride; HOLY CRAP - look how this and the pic to the left form a panorama - totally accidental but awesome!
Unbelievable scenery (I may write that a lot!)
Ah, some pavement!
What am I cheering about? We're not done yet!
Looking across the Front Range to Colorado Springs
A look back at the summit and the road we've been riding
Just more awesome alpine scenery
Apparently people will ski or snowboard these chutes. They're totally doing this at their own risk.
Again looking back
The road ahead with Dad and Daniel in the lead. I typically was the one the van was right behind.
I just had to get over my fear of speed a little bit! Here's where you can see "Little Italy". See it?
Glen Cove was where we stopped for a bathroom break
There's the lodge and souvenir stand
The first cloud of the afternoon emerges - and what a storm that followed it later that afternoon and evening!
Back to gravelly 'goodness' - that's scary shit to ride on
An old ski slope - too bad
More gravel awaits and we're now way below the timberline
Just like taking pictures of trees, I guess
Teresa, Melissa and Sara get ready for the next leg
I also like Fluffy Clouds. Ask Jenny.
Yes, we just rode from the top of that snow covered peak!
How freakin' beautiful was this day? We couldn't have paid for a better day, I tell ya.
Looking down the nice asphalt road - nice and FAST
Here's Crystal Reservoir, which I mentioned a few rows up. There's Pikes Peak!
There's Me
Here's the 'top edge' I referenced above that we'd ride along. It's called Dam Road because right after it is Dam Hill, and that is no lie.
Another beautiful picture. Widescreen setting on my camera captures scenic landscapes amazingly.
Me at the Reservoir stop with my bike (named Jack Rabbit)
There's Pikes Peak, just in case you need it pointed out to you
At this point in the ride, it's all asphalt and fast, with plenty of steep hills still. My brakes got a serious workout.
A plethora of Aspen trees
More road to come
Here's our last stop and overlooking Highway 24 which takes you from the Springs to Pikes Peak, the Ski Slopes, and Aspen
Added the bike to the shot too
Now me
Looking back to the peak, although it's harder to see now
More Highway 24
The road we just came down
Ah, the finish line: Wines of Colorado
That's our bikes all loaded up and ready to go
Here's where we had lunch, along the creek. Cool.
Definite Thumbs Up to this adventure. Highly Recommended. (The sore legs and bicycle seat crotch come the next day)
All 6 of us - Dad, Melissa, Daniel, Me (I didn't get the memo to color coordinate according to gender), Teresa, and Sara.
Somehow I missed these the first go-round: Here's my Dad at the top before the ride started
And me too!

And to finish off the pictures of my bathroom project, I present to you one last pic with the new lighting and the new shelf I put in. There are still things to be fixed because of installation 'concerns' (okay, I'll fess up: the old lighting, when removed, showed that the electric casing with all the connections was NOT centered on the old or new mirror. And my new lighting only has a central circular connection to the wall, so that still has to be patched over as we had to get 'creative' in bringing the wires to the middle; plus, the two remaining walls need to be painted pure white as well). Regardless, my bathroom rocks. Now I really have to think as to what I would want to do next to my house. I think my living room needs some reorganization, but nothing major or Lowe's related...? Anyways, back to work for another fun week, I'm sure. Oh joy.