Working Out at the YMCA Aquatic & Family Center: Orlando Part 3

YMCA Aquatic Family Center Orlando FLWorking out is important to me, even when I’m away. That’s why I was happy to find out that there was a YMCA Aquatic & Family Center located right next to my hotel: the Orlando Metropolitan Resort. And it was free because I was staying at that hotel.

I walked into the gym and was greeted by signing in. After that, I walked in and saw that it looked like a typical gym ala Planet Fitness… just without the judgment-free zone jargon and free pizza. There was one of every piece of equipment, which was more than adequate for my workout.

That day, I chose to do arms because it was the quickest workout and I was with a friend. I didn’t want to be that guy who took too long, but I did want to burn some calories. It was a good workout and I did some core afterwards.

The only regret I have is not bringing a bathing suit to Orlando. Not only was the weather great, but the YMCA had a HUGE pool with an open-air atmosphere and loads of Olympic-sized lanes for swimming laps. If I ever go back there, I’d love to take a swim in there and have a longer workout.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never been to a YMCA before, but I had an enjoyable workout. I was expecting something with not-the-best equipment and maybe an aerobics class set to some oldies.

I’m not ashamed of that joke. Or to blast the Village People at full volume while driving slowly through a rough neighborhood.

Business Card Count: 35,125

Some Quality Brother Time and Mexican Food in Poughkeepsie

Mexican Restaurant Poughkeepsie NYIt’s always good to spend time with family, but it’s usually for a family gathering so it’s a lot of moving parts in a very finite window of time. This time around, I got some 1-on-1 time with my brother since his wife was away on business.

I arrived to his house in Poughkeepsie, New York Friday night and we talked a lot about life over some good BBQ (they didn’t have a business card, so no free plug though I thoroughly enjoyed the Billy Cheesesteak and New England clam chowder) & played video games.

The next day is when some more fun started after sleeping for a while and also watching some TV. I went to school at Marist College up in Poughkeepsie and I actually saw the updates made to my campus, including the destruction of my sophomore housing where a famed message was left by me on my friend Jon’s voicemail falsely implicating my other friend Jerry causing the fire alarm to get pulled.

That was not the only place I went.

El Azteca Mexican Deli

El Azteca Mexican DeliWe went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant called El Azteca, which triples as a grocery store and a DVD market. It was a bit confusing at first since we weren’t sure whether to order at the counter or sit & get served.

I ultimately decided on a taco salad with chipotle chicken, cheese, lettuce, black beans, queso fresco, pico de gallo and guacamole inside of a taco shell. It’s one of the better Mexican salads I’ve ever had and I’ve enjoyed so much Mexican food over the years. I’d definitely go to El Azteca again.

Locust Grove

Locust GroveA real highlight of the trip was going to Locust Grove. For those who don’t know, it’s the house that Samuel Morse is most known for living in and it’s turned into something of a tourist attraction.

The private organization that owns the land kept it as historical accurate to when the Young family moved there in the early 1900s as possible and the posh lifestyle in that time was quite interesting from the rooms in the house to some of the “advanced technology” used during the time period.

We also hiked the trails to get some nice nature views including a great one of the Hudson River. Not to mention seeing some of Samuel Morse’s inventions, art (he painted before he invented the telegraph) and products inspired by him like 2 antique board games I’d be curious to play.

All in all, it was quite the fun experience. I hope to spend some more frequent quality family time together in the future… though the stack of business cards I’d get would be smaller… womp womp womp.

Business Card Count: 33,885

Ron Snipes Birthday Bash: My First Multicultural Comedy Show

Comedy Show Perth Amboy NJIf you couldn’t tell by my photo (which is from my most recent birthday bash), I’m quite white. I’m probably the whitest person I know and I once met Casper.

I put the Caucasian in Caucasian. Okay, I’ll stop now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as entertained by Hispanic comedians like George Lopez or black comedians like Chris Rock for whatever reason, but I recently went to the Ron Snipes Birthday Bash since a friend of mine knew the man who was being honored on this night.

Ron Snipes Birthday Bash

And I’ll also admit that I was skeptical going in that I wouldn’t really get a lot of the humor being portrayed. And I must say that there were parts I couldn’t related to from all 5 comedians who performed at the Ron Snipes Birthday Bash.

However, I could appreciate the humor since I was surrounded by the laughter of others with the few jokes I didn’t exactly get and there were a good amount of jokes and plays on words that I found humorous. They all brought me into a world where I can imagine their hypothetical situations happening in real life.

Among the comedians who gave a set were Marshall Brandon, Edgar Rivera and Ruperto Vanderpool. I honestly don’t know who was who except by the order they went in, but their topics varied across the board. I must say I truly enjoyed myself and would do it again if asked, especially if they served a buffet like this event did (with meatballs, rice, roasted chicken, hot wings & carbs I opted out of).

The only other comedy club I went to was in NYC for my friend Jon’s bachelor party. That was funny as well, though the funniest moment was when my other friend Jerry hit one menu and it started a domino effect into another menu, into my glass of wine and landing splat onto my pants. Funny times.

I spoke with the host/guest of honor and Ron seemed like a good person, as were the other comedians on hand for the after party.

Business Card Count: 33,733

I Almost Went to Grad School at Adelphi University

Adelphi University Grad SchoolBack to school is here… and for my niece Taylor, it’s her first time going to school. And for a time, I considered going to graduate school.

It was late 2007 or early 2008 after graduating college and I was really unhappy with my life. I was living with my mother’s basement (the stereotypical “loser” cliche) and working a horrible job in the deli department at a King Kullen. The job market sucked and I thought I was destined for better.

That’s when I started researching graduate schools that had good English programs that were local and I decided to go to an open house at Adelphi University.

After sitting for like 3 hours listening to Adelphi professors and administration speak about the English program, it seemed intriguing. Then, I forgot that I really didn’t like school. And I didn’t really have money for more school. No desire, no money, no school.

It was in June 2008 when I started my first full-time job, so I wasn’t waiting long for work. Until I got laid off in March 2009 and couldn’t find a job for 2 years because of the recession.

Do I regret not pursuing grad school at Adelphi University or elsewhere? No, because I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had. I would have lived with my mother in the basement for longer and would not have grown as a person in the same way.

Though, I would have probably dropped out once I got the job anyway, but maybe I would have gone to another grad school in NJ.

Business Card Count: 33,506

I Got Poison Ivy & Went to Doctor’s Office Urgent Care

Poison Ivy AllergyIf there’s one thing to know about me, I have a severe allergy to poison ivy. So severe that I was once hospitalized since half of my face was oozing orange within 3 days.

This time wasn’t as bad, though my face is marked up red on my forehead, throughout my eye and on the tip of my nose. My eye was also swollen shut, which is when I decided to go to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care location in Manalapan, New Jersey.

Doctor's Office Urgent Care Manalapan NJ

I got there right after 8:00 am when they opened up since I wanted to ensure I could get in and out so I could go back to work. I took a sick day the previous day and I worked from home on this day. But let’s talk more about my visit to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care.

It was typical urgent care treatment, except I didn’t have to wait too long since I was one of the first people there. The doctor gave me a shot and some pills that I took. I still have a little bit of a rash and will probably see another doctor about it, perhaps not Doctor’s Office Urgent Care since urgent cares could run more expensive than a regular doctor.

I have some other reasons to see the doctor, but I enjoyed going to the urgent care. The only other time I went to an urgent care was to get my elbow drained since I dinged it at some point wrestling. It definitely beats going to the emergency room if your ailment is not dire. I’d definitely go to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care in Manalapan again.

Business Card Count: 32,998

I Chose a New Gym: Retro Fitness (throughout New Jersey)

Retro Fitness Freehold NJIt took a little while after I decided to leave LA Fitness, but I finally picked a new gym: Retro Fitness, primarily the location in Freehold NJ. However, I’ve worked out in a few of them around the state so far.

It’s weird how inconsistent these gyms are from one another. Planet Fitness is pretty much cookie cutter with added equipment with more space and LA Fitness was the same way with equipment & amenities. There’s a stark contrast with Retro.

The Freehold location has a steam room, but it’s the only location I’ve been to with one. There’s also a variety of different equipment and rooms depending on the location you pick. The only consistency is their Theatre for cardio, which I don’t use anyway, and the juice bar that has decent enough protein but use liquid flavoring that tastes too artificial.

But here’s why I chose Retro Fitness over some other gyms besides this juice stack of business cards I was able to get at Retro.

Club Metro

Club Metro Freehold NJIn spite of the other stack of business cards I got at Club Metro of Freehold and how much nicer that gym is compared to Retro, Club Metro was just too expensive. Not to mention there aren’t enough locations in North Jersey to accommodate my desire to work out elsewhere.

New York Sports Club

In spite of the third stack of business cards (see a theme here?) I got at the New York Sports Club in Manalapan, I felt like there was lack of difference between NYSC and Retro. I didn’t need a basketball court, which takes up about half the gym’s space and NYSC was more money (see another theme here?).

After the first month of being a Retro Fitness member, I’m enjoying it. I’m still getting a good workout in each time I go to the gym, but I do find myself not wanting to shower there since the soap is inferior to LA Fitness. I just bring my own and smell squeaky clean.

Oh and Retro also wins because their stack of business cards was bigger than the stacks from the other gyms.

Business Card Count: 32,979

Popping My H&R Block Cherry with Ellen Sowers

Ellen Sowers H&R BlockGetting my taxes done was always a bit of a core for me even though I’ve never met the person who did my taxes face to face. I always just had to mail my tax documents to my mother who would in turn give them to an accountant whose business card I never received.

That all changed this year because of my marriage. Firstly, we had to file together and secondly, she uses H&R Block. She always goes to the Piscataway, New Jersey location and works with Ellen Sowers.

So off I went for my first visit to the Block. Beth told me pretty much what to expect from my cherry popping: sitting around for about an hour or so & dropping a couple hundred dollars. But, there was more to the story.

The Ellen Sowers Experience

Sowers explained to me what some of the things on my tax paperwork meant, which was a nice added bonus. I like learning more about how things work and taxes were no exception.

I also excused myself to go to the bathroom, so I can snag myself some more employee business cards. Did you know they rank employees at H&R Block by number? I saw some Tax Specialist 3 cards (and I think there was a 2 in there also), so I’m glad when I knew my taxes were being done by a 5.

The best part of it all though was knowing that I’m getting a refund. It’s always a nice feeling when you get money back, especially at this time because of the house. The refund is bigger than usual, but that could be because of our joint filing.

All in all, my first H&R Block experience was a good one (I did play some games on my phone while the numbers were being put into the software by Sowers) & we’ll be using them for the foreseeable future.

Business Card Count: 32,411

See You Later Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Nassau Veterans Memorial ColiseumA very Long Island-appropriate Billy Joel concert on August 4th will be the last event to be taking place at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale NY before a major renovation that will close the arena for over a year.

I know when they did the same for Shea Stadium, they renamed it CitiField, so who knows if the arena will even be called Nassau Coliseum anymore. Either way, I have had some good times over the years there.

My Memories at Nassau Coliseum

Nassau ColiseumThe most fond memories I’ve had were seeing wrestling events with my father & brother. In fact, my first live event was a WWE house show in 1994 where I got see wrestlers including Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Alundra Blayze & others.

There were others including a WCW house show, an episode of WCW Monday Nitro where Hulk Hogan & Goldberg took on the Jersey Triad in the main event and an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw where the main event was Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Rikishi.

During some of the events, we got to sit in a sky box because of the connection my father or godfather had at the Coliseum. Either way, I had lots of fun.

In fact, I think seeing wrestling shows were the only memories I have. I know I went to an Islanders game at some point, as well as a different type of show or job event. I can’t recall, but it’s been fun going to Nassau Coliseum.

Tell me about your fond memories at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the comments below or tweet me @ChrisKeuling!

Business Card Count: 30,741

The Time the Wake Viewing Line Was Out the Door

Thompson Memorial HomeFunerals are most always sad occasions. I know that all too well. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a wake of a friend’s father. It was raining, which I’ve found to be a trend for funerals and/or wakes of people I’ve known.

When I got there, I found a line out the door. I’ve never seen that before, but it happened at the Thompson Memorial Home down in Red Bank NJ.

From what I learned about him, he owned a pizzeria in the area and was influential in the community. I read that he kept the place open during Hurricane Sandy.

It seemed like there was good reason for the line to be out the door. It took about 45 minutes to actually get into the funeral home, which looked nice but a little small when I went inside. Then, it took another 20 minutes to actually view him and say my condolences since the line wrapped into the casket-free common area, into a hall and around another bend.

Man, I hope that I touch that many people when I die.

Have you ever been to the Thompson Memorial Home? Tell me about your experience in the comments below or on Twitter @ChrisKeuling!

A Nice Funeral Goes a Long Way

My apologies for the lack of an update. I was actually in the middle of writing a blog post about a new restaurant (well, cafe) that opened up recently in my area & my first experience there.

However, I’ve been (in addition to the things I already do in my life) been dealing and reeling over the process of my grandmother Vivian Steers passing away over the past couple of weeks. Long story short: she had a stroke in August, they found cancer in her brain, she was doing better until the tumor grew and things got worse until she passed away on Monday 9/22.

I visited her twice post stroke, once in an assisted living facility that she enjoyed but didn’t have the medical team to help once things got worse and on the day before her death when she seemed to be in a deep sleep and comfortable. It was quick and thankfully, the suffering was minimal.

Thomas P Walsh Funeral HomeThen, came the wake on Wednesday and the funeral mass & burial on Thursday. Upon arriving at Thomas P. Walsh Funeral Home in Central Islip, I saw that it was a nice size and looked immaculate. The size was especially good for the number of people who came to both viewings and sat down.

They actually used two different rooms that are usually divided by a movable wall, but made it into one room. The setup was also really nice, with one feature that I’ve never seen before. There was a candle next to the casket (which was closed) and it had a picture of my grandmother’s face on the glass as a part of the candle.

I saw some people I always see and others that I hadn’t seen in years. It was a nice time of reflection to think about my grandmother and a time to say goodbye.

A great thing that the staff did was that they opened the door for everybody coming in and going out. I also liked that the staff were helpful in knowing all of the different prayers and religious things that needed to be said upon her arrival at the cemetery.

I’ll miss my grandmother a whole lot, but I’m glad that she’s buried with her husband & family and grateful that all that she gave me from gifts & money to love & some personality traits. Even the hard times when being told that I’ll never find a girl who would love me since I didn’t know how to hold a fork the right way.