My Very First Meetup at Blu Alehouse in Woodbridge NJ

Blu Alehouse Woodbridge NJI wanted to write about this experience for a little while, but my 4-part trip to Orlando delayed this, as did my my timely horrific experience at H&R Block.

For a while, me and my girlfriend wanted to expand our social circle since we don’t have any local friends who are our “couple friends”. I get along with all of her friends and vice versa, but a lot of our friends either aren’t local or are quite busy/aren’t often available.

That’s why we decided to start a Meetup group to seek out other couples in our area who are looking for “couple friends”.

She previously had success meeting people through the Meetup networking site, so we decided to give it a whirl and we got a group of people… well, couples… who signed up for the group. By the time our initial meeting occurred, it was only us and one other couple.

Shannon Rose Woodbridge NJWe opted to have our first Meetup at Blu Alehouse in Woodbridge, New Jersey because we wanted to try it. The Shannon Rose Irish Pub used to be there, but they went out of business for some reason. It had a good old-timey pub and I certainly enjoyed their lamb shepherd’s pie.

But I digress. The Meetup was successful, as got to know another professional couple who just had a child not too long ago. I’m usually somewhat introverted upon first meeting people, so I did my best to open up about myself and have good conversation.

The food was also good, as I had a chilled asparagus salad with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and candied pecans on a bed of baby arugula. The atmosphere was very modern, as you can tell by the business card above, which was clean but I enjoy the more old-timey look of The Shannon Rose.

Will we continue with this Meetup? Most definitely… we have some event ideas in our heads to apply for the summer. Will I eat at Blu Alehouse again? I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I’m not into beer & a lot of their menu/theme revolves around beer. Not to mention that there are other restaurants that provide similar food at a similar price point.

But it was more about the enjoyable company and conversation that day than the food.

Business Card Count: 35,582

My Visit to Hogan’s Beach Shop, Brother!: Orlando Part 2

Hogans Beach Shop Orlando FLThe big reason why I went to Orlando was because I was wrestling down there. And I knew that I had to do something wrestling related outside of my business while I was in town.

That’s where Hogan’s Beach Shop came in. They opened their Orlando location just in time for WrestleMania 33, which was on the Sunday after I left. And it took a couple of attempts to actually get into the store.

That’s because they were doing autograph signings as part of the grand opening with none other than Hulk Hogan himself. I didn’t have the urge to pay at least $100 (I heard $150) to meet the Hulkster and get his autograph. I was just curious to see what kind of things they sold at the Beach Shop.

And boy is there a lot of Hogan merchandise & memorabilia. The first thing that popped out at me was the custom Hulk Hogan Dodge Viper sitting in the middle of the store that was bright red and yellow. I just took a look and said to myself, “eh, I don’t drive stick.”

I moved onto seeing 3 life-sized Hogan figures (one in each corner not occupied by the cash register), as well as a NWO motorcycle, numerous signed pieces of unique/vintage merchandise, championship belts, old VHS tapes and even a random Van Halen backstage pass. The non-signed merch included T-shirts of all colors & sizes, action figures of himself & other WWE superstars, a Hulk Hogan Halloween costume kit, weight belts, protein shaker bottles, glasses & much more.

What was even more fascinating were the few non-Hulk items in the store that looked like you can just get them at any gift shop. I guess they sell them just because some people might be dragged to Hogan’s Beach Shop against their will during their trip to Orlando. I also enjoyed that they played Hogan-related wrestling clips and movies on the multiple TVs in the store. I found myself watching a bit of Mr. Nanny when visiting the store.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience even though I didn’t buy anything. It was a fun detour in the AC on an 85-and-sunny day.

Business Card Count: 35,102

KanJam: The Joys I’ve Had Even in Defeat

Kan JamMy wife Beth recently went to Toy Fair 2016 in NYC for one of her clients who flies drones. Now, I’ll admit that’s a lot more fun than my car dealership clients who don’t let me test drive or borrow new cars for free.

But, with every trade show she goes to… I always ask her to snag me some business cards. She disappointed greatly when she went to Las Vegas for CES, but Toy Fair did not! In fact, she got 2 business cards that intrigued me for a favorite game of mine: KanJam!

I honestly thought it was Kan Jam, but it’s a unique (not a board) game that’s a fairly simple concept. Here’s an informative video showing the game (and apparently some other versions I’ve never played but will have to!).

Like with many things in my life, I have lost more at KanJam than I’ve won. I’ve always played with my nephews, my brother and brother-in-law, along with some other people. I’m always the one who winds up falling on his ass trying to dive after the disc to either jam it or at the very least hit it into the can.

I have a long wing span and am very flexible (and durable) because of my wrestling endeavors, so I always try to jam even if there’s little chance of getting points. My disc throwing abilities are as subpar as my ability to jam, hence why I taste the agony of defeat more often than not. But still, the game is about fun and I have lots of fun playing it.

I’d love to hear about your experiences playing KanJam, so feel free to comment!

P.S. Beth told me that KanJam was at Toy Fair 2016 to show off some new ways to customize your cans with sports team logos, which I couldn’t care less about.

Business Card Count: 32,040

My Collection of Wood Business Cards

A majority of my business cards are made out of the same thickness of paper. Some have elevated font, some have letterpress (a term I learned thanks to my wedding invitations) and others feel like a picture. There are even some plastic ones.

I’d like to focus today on the business cards in my collection that are made of wood. They are quite rare, so I wanted to show off these cards.

Debbie ProvostDebbie Provost

My first wood business card was given to me by my brother after him & his wife (then girlfriend or fiancee, I can’t recall which) went to see her grandparents in New Hampshire. The use of wood makes sense because it’s clear that Debbie uses white birch in the crafts that she sells.

It’s one of my favorites because of the woodsy smell and how fragile it is. It was also my only wood business card for a while until I received one another from one of my wife’s coworkers.

Allistair LeeAllistair Lee

This wood business card was one of the many I received because they were old media contacts that the coworker must have elsewhere. I guess Pocket Insider wanted to make their business cards unique to other media, so it can stand out.

Mission accomplished. Wood material AND raised & indented font does the trick for me.

B2 Bistro Red Bank NJB2 Bistro and Bar

Given to me via one of my wife’s coworkers, B2 Bistro and Bar is a restaurant in Red Bank NJ by her job.

With an interesting list of cocktails, an assortment of cheese choices and plenty of potentially good meal options, I’d love to try it sometime. I’d definitely be curious to see if the wood on the business card goes with the restaurant’s design theme.

Business Card Count: 31,110

A Business Card For a Cause: Team Denise Filera-Miksza

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I just so happened to grab this business card recently. It’s actually the first one I’ve ever seen of its kind: a card dedicated to a team of someone who passed away from breast cancer: Denise Filera-Miksza.

The back of the card tells Denise’s story and why Darlene & Patrick Cornell decided to honor their friend. This is essentially equivalent to a business’s About Us section of their website and is perhaps something other businesses should keep in mind when printing their business cards.

Susan G Komen 3 Day Walker

Team Denise Filera MikszaIt’s always a sad story to see disease take anybody away at a young age. I don’t know any of these people personally or know anybody who passed because of breast cancer (although I have friends who do), but it’s always good to donate money to a good cause.

I know that there’s controversy about the Susan G. Komen Foundation (the 3-Day Walk creator) that comes with every major charity (i.e. where do most of the funds really go), but I’m not here to stir the pot. Not today at least.

Although I feel that it’s best to give money directly to a victim or their family if they’re deceased, I still think it’s quite honorable that Darlene & Patrick Cornell are doing this for their dear friend. Donating to this year’s walk is now closed, but I’m sure you can text 973-864-7368 if you still want to contribute in some way (especially if you stumble across this blog post after 2015).

If you know someone affected by breast cancer, my heart goes out to you since I’m lucky not to. There’s never a wrong time to donate money to a good cause, whether you do it through Susan G. Komen or through the people themselves.

Business Card Count: 31,029

My Wife Has Recruited a Company of Card Collectors

lotus823 BethMy wife has always been on my case about not featuring her more in my blog. I did dedicate an entire section to our wedding, which you can read all about here.

Well, she has enlisted her coworkers at lotus823 to collect business cards for me by simply letting them know about my habit. Many of them have been helping out and in turn, adds business cards to my collection that I wouldn’t get my hands on otherwise.

Not without teasing that I won’t get them first. It’s a cute little game she plays with me. I dislike it greatly.

They range from places around the Jersey Shore where their office is located & spots where they enjoy to old business cards of contacts who they no longer need to talk to. Don’t worry: I won’t call them. Or email them. Or show up to their job.

Thanks for feeding my habit ladies!

Oh, and this business card is wrong since Beth just got promoted at work (which I’m so proud of since she deserves it for all of her hard work). lotus823 needs to work on getting her a new one, stat. Not for accuracy of her new title, just so I can add 1 more card to my collection. Which she’ll bring home from work, coincidentally.

The business card is also not flawed: I also wiped out her mobile # from the card, so the few people (or one person) reading this without her phone # don’t bother her.

Business Card Count: 30,987

My Car Shopping Experience at Crestmont Toyota & Ramsey Nissan

Getting a new car is something I thought about for quite some time, but the old Versa was ticking away towards death. I put $1500 into it to hope it would last another year, but issues arose a month later & it was time to car shop for real.

Crestmont Toyota Paul AbrahamCrestmont Toyota

The car I was looking to get the most was the Toyota Prius. I wasn’t sure if I could afford it, so I went to the closest dealership on my route home from work: Crestmont Toyota in Pompton Plains NJ.

I spoke with Paul Abraham, a Product Specialist (fancy term for car salesman, eh?), and before I dive into it, I have a question: does anybody actually use QR codes? Aren’t those like ancient history or is that just me?

Anyhoo, I took a 2015 Toyota Prius C out for a test drive and it was way too small of a car. Nobody could sit behind me when I drive. Paul Abraham’s reaction? I’m tall, too and I don’t have my kids sit behind me. How absurd does that sound?

I test drove a regular-sized 2015 Toyota Prius a week later and that was a much more suitable fit. What it did not fit was my budget, even with the gas savings I’d get. I guess I can hybrid it up in my next car. Paul tried to get a ridiculous lease deal going on once I said I’d just get a Nissan if I couldn’t get the Prius, but it was too much time of paying off a car.

Ramsey Nissan David YedwabRamsey Nissan

I found more success when shopping at Ramsey Nissan in Upper Saddle River closer to my job. My Sales Consultant was David Yedwab and he seemed to be much less salesman-like than Paul was over at Crestmont Toyota.

I have no complaints about my experience, although I went in getting an extra feature or 2 that will benefit me in winter since it was so cheap to get. I opted for the 2015 Nissan Sentra SV with the Cold Weather Package (heated front seats & exterior mirrors) in Titanium (a metallic-looking gray).

Titanium 2015 Nissan Sentra SV with Cold Weather Package

Tell me about your car shopping experience with Crestmont Toyota or Ramsey Nissan, regardless of who your salesperson was, in the comments below or on Twitter @ChrisKeuling!

Business Card Count: 30,950

My Most Recent Barber Has His Own Business Card

Paul Pro HaircuttersI just got my 1st haircut since my wedding week, which I went into some detail about here. My wife was very pleased to say the least.

And so was I. My haircut is pretty standard fare and it was a fine experience. But that wasn’t the most interesting part about my haircut.

It was the fact that my barber had his own personalized business card.

Ace Pro HaircuttersIt shows his personal hours, so you can schedule your appointments around his schedule. That’s pretty smart, although not having the address on the card isn’t the best decision in case a customer forgets where it is & they’re too lazy to Google it.

Apparently, all of the barbers at Pro Haircutters have their own card including Paul, the guy I used. And this other guy Ace, whose business card I took from the Muscle Maker Grill right near Pro Haircutters, had one too.

Similar to the Sansone Auto Mall business cards I found in 2013, they all appear to be different in design than each other and the Pro Haircutters card for the Parsippany NJ location I went to by a gym I go to.

Pro Haircutters Parsippany NJ

Business Card Count: 30,831

Paying Tribute to My Dad Through Golf

Sunken Meadow Golf CourseGolf was my dad’s favorite sport. For the past 5 years since his passing, my siblings and I have put together an annual golf outing in his honor.

It’s always a fun event since I get to see some old friends of mine and my father’s. And the fact that there’s good food. And the fact that golf is not my sport.

In fact, I think golfing is about the least talented thing I do on occasion. I played for a fraction of a summer when I was in high school with my dad & brother, including a couple of 9-hole & Par 3 courses. Let’s just say that I take more strokes than Michael Phelps.

But I digress. This year, we did it at the Sunken Meadow Golf Course in Kings Park. I went to a driving range the week before to practice and felt confident enough that I would get below a 125.

Right before I was about to tee off, it started pouring & thundering. That meant the game would be delayed. And of course shenanigans ensued when our party was making fun of the overly grumpy golf course attendant with the safari hat. I had my lowest score of 0 so far. Then the game went on.

I must say that Sunken Meadow Golf Course really didn’t feel like it got rained out after the stormy weather dissipated. There were no puddles on the green or anything. However, the sand was quite wet and very tough to hit out of. I would know, I fell into more traps than the Wet Bandits fells into during Home Alone.

I wound up winning a trophy at the tournament also.

Golf Course Kings Park NY

Of course it was for highest score: a 126. Hey, at least I took 10 strokes off my last score.

If you have an experience at Sunken Meadow Golf Course, tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @ChrisKeuling!

Business Card Count: 30,725

Wedding Blog: Bachelor Party Madness in Atlantic City

Bachelor Party Atlantic City NJI recently wrote about my fiancee’s bridal shower and bachelorette party. This past weekend, my brother Brian & my two groomsmen (Jerry & Jon) threw me my bachelor party.

It was quite the fun experience. It actually started on Friday night at my apartment when they all came to spend the night. We wound up new wrestling (TNA, which nobody seemed to like) and an old WWE pay-per-view from 1998 (Fully Loaded) that brought back memories while playing Uno, Phase 10, Sorry and Scattergories. We carbed up on Domino’s and wound up going to bed at about 2 am.

The next day, we went to our hotel, the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and spent some time gambling. First, it was the slots (or what I call reverse ATMs as they take your money). Then, it was let it ride and craps where I got my money back and then some.

Then, came on the traditional tacky shirt you see above. Hitting the town.

Saturday Night

WWE House Show Atlantic City NJContinental Restaurant Atlantic City NJWe went to dinner at The Continental at Caesars. There was some good food and drinks there for sure. My drink of choice was watermelon and blackberry sangria (a great break from the vodka/cranberries I was getting on the casino floor).

We started off with 3 appetizers: beer-battered shrimp & calamari, Cantonese ribs and French onion soup dumplings. All were equally good in their own way.

My entree (pictured) was the Chilean sea bass with miso glaze, Chinese broccoli and sweet potato mash, which was all delicious together and separate. I also had one of my brother’s cheesesteak eggroll that’s the product of a Chinese man making love to a Philly gal in my mouth.

The Night Was Still Young

Then came the surprise: tickets to a live WWE house show (non-televised). It was a fun event that featured a steel cage match and the saltiest popcorn I’ve ever had. I felt like I sucked the moisture from my tongue and roof of mouth with a vacuum cleaner.

We walked back to Resorts and gambled some more. A combination of blackjack and let it ride. My groomsmen never gambled playing cards before, so it was fun seeing them get used to the game. Especially Jerry playing his first hand of let it ride all wrong and Jon needing to get advice from the blackjack dealer (and the rest of the table) whether to hit or stay.

Afterwards, we went to a bar for a cocktail and a then to a club where a fun time was had by all.

Late Night Shenanigans

The most interesting part was the walk back to the hotel where a fight broke out in the back of a casino. One guy who was held back by his buddies eventually got around them and chased the other guy. Both men stripped down to their shorts and took off their shirts.

Then, the police came as a car came barreling down the boardwalk. We stumbled back into the hotel and ate a late-night meal at Plate American Cafe in our hotel. I had some grilled chicken and pepper jack burger (I took the bun out) and well-done french fries to satisfy my munchies.

The next morning, we checked out and ate at the buffet in Caesars. I had an eclectic mix of prime rib, an egg white omelette, hot sausage, turkey breakfast sausage, fried chicken (which sucked) and edamame topped off with banana sherbet for dessert.

I reflected on the ride home about how fun my Atlantic City bachelor party was, including the two new inside jokes: the RKO Outta Nowhere! and the Geico coldcuts/bupkis dance. Tell me about your bachelor party experience in AC or elsewhere in the comments below or on Twitter @ChrisKeuling!