Posts tagged 'Personal'

Russell The Poet

My roommate, Jaime, had to make a website about poetry for one of her classes. Her idea was to present the poems of several 19th century American poets along with a recording of a reading. Guess who got to lend his voice to the poetry reading? That’s right, it was me!

Bullwinkle Performs Poetry.

I was happy to help out with voice over work and recording. I borrowed a R0DE Podcaster Microphone from work and recorded everything into Garageband on a MacBook. I recited poems from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman.

In fact in the 8th grade one of my assignments was to memorize and recite in front of the class Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” Even after all of these years the words flew off my tongue with ease.

Jaime’s site is pretty interesting and well designed for a first time website maker. Take a look around and take a listen to the other poems.

More Photos From Kristina’s Graduation

On May 23rd, Kristina graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with two B.A. degrees. One was in Communication Studies and the other in Art Studio – Graphic Design. I took a photo and posted it from my mobile phone on that day but here are the rest of the pictures from the day.

Kristina in disbelief that she is finally graduating.
Kristina in disbelief that she is finally graduating.

On stage with diploma in hand.
On stage with diploma in hand.

Walking back to her seat.
Walking back to her seat.

A picture of the happy family.
A picture of the happy family.

My turn in front of the camera.
My turn in front of the camera.

Flowers, diploma, and mortar board! Oh My!
Flowers, diploma, and mortar board! Oh My!

Kristina\'s aunt got her a garland.
Kristina's aunt got her a garland.

Showing off her stoll.
Showing off her stoll.

Posing by the sign to mark graduation day.
Posing by the sign to mark graduation day.

The whole shebang.
The whole shebang.

Now comes the job search. Stay tuned…

FCA’s Annual Picnic

The Filipino Cultural Association, which Kristina is a part of (and therefore me too), had their annual end-of-year picnic this past Sunday. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day as there were no clouds in sight and the sun was out in full force. Maybe the sun was a little too forceful as I forgot to put sunblock on my arms and face which were burnt to a crisp.

A shot of the picnic from the hill.

Everyone met at Centennial Park, Maryland, for food and games. There were plenty of burgers, hot dogs, and hungry college students but our poor chef Casper couldn’t cook them fast enough on the tiny charcoal park grill.

Life size hot dog with ketchup makes you feel like you were actually there.
A life size hot dog with ketchup makes you feel like you were actually there.

Kristina put together a series of games dividing everyone up into 5 color “families”. The events included:

  • Balloon Toss – Passing a water balloon back and forth with a partner until there was only one team left. After each successful toss the teams would take a step back.
  • The Three Legged Race
  • Pie Eating Contest
  • Balloon Stomp – Where each team member had a balloon tied around their ankle as they tried to pop other peoples balloons.
  • An Obstacle Course/Race – Consisting of spinning around a bat 10 times, a human wheelbarrow race, and a mad dash carrying an egg on a spoon.

Preparing to catch a balloon.
Paolo prepares to catch a water-filled balloon.

Messy remnants were the only thing left of those Apple pies.Bits and pieces on his glasses were all that was left of Daryl’s Apple pie.

Racing to the finish line carrying an egg on a spoon.Jen races to the finish line carrying an egg on a spoon.

An FCA picnic wouldn’t be complete without a tug-of-war match between the upper classmen and the lower classmen. It is tradition for the upper classmen to win and immediately tie an underclassmen to a nearby tree. This year sure didn’t disappoint, all in good fun of course!

Upperclassmen vs. lowerclassmen in tug of war.
Upperclassmen vs. lowerclassmen in tug-o-war.

Tied up underclassman
They say it’s an honor to be tied to the tree.

At the end of the games everyone was too tired to care who won (it was the red team if you must know). Everyone had a good day out in the sun, laughing, having fun, and eating picnic food. This is Kristina’s last year in college so we probably won’t be back next year. Atleast we have these memories and the 495 pictures I took of the day, which was more fun for me than getting worked up over picnic games.

A shot of the whole FCA gang at the annual picnic 2008

See more pictures from the day.

A Photoshoot With Kids

Last weekend Kristina and I ventured over to the house of a family friend to take pictures of her kids playing with a toy. Kristina was designing toy packaging and needed shots of a child playing with the toy for the box art.

Graci readies for her shoot.

Scheduling the shoot during the late morning hours wasn’t the most helpful time in terms of lighting. Most of the shots had our subject squinting with dark shadows in her eyes. This could have been fixed by bouncing light onto her face from below using a reflector. Of course this didn’t occur to me until after the fact and I didn’t have a reflector with me. We made do with what we had and brought back some decent results.
Toy Package Design for Berry Buddies

After the official work was done and out of the way the kids wanted to play. I got some interesting shots of child play in action.

Andi gets some height in her midair split.

Graci sure knew how to pose for the camera.

Don\'t let the Graci out!

You can see more pictures in my Picasa web album.

What I Learned On My 23rd Birthday

Today is my 23rd birthday, but I’m not the only one who has a special day today. Did you know American Idol first season winner Kelly Clarkson‘s birthday is today? Or how about Chipper Jones, the 3rd baseman for the Atlanta Braves who was also born on this day? Apparently Benedikt Lechler, a famous composer, celebrates his 414th birthday today. He was born in 1594.

Thanks to I know all of this random trivia about April 24th. But not just limiting themselves to birth dates, Brainy History also offers a catalog of death dates and important events. Estee Lauder died at the age of 97 on the same day I turned 17 in 2004. But my favorite event that happened on April 24th hands-down has got to be from 1982 when the IBM-PC was introduced. Those that know me realize this is a perfect fit for me.

Charlie Chaplin standing next to an IBM PC

But birthdays aren’t all about looking back and reflecting; they’re about getting free stuff on your special day. (via Pammy) has the ultimate list of food, entertainment, and services that give away free offerings to birthday boys or girls. We’re talking mostly about free ice cream and cake but some places like Chevys mexican restaurants give away a free desert and a sombrero. The catch is you have to sign up in advance to take advantage of most of the offers. Too late for me now, but maybe next year.

Finally my Dad reminded me that when he was 23 he was in Vietnam in charge of 30 guys in a supply department on the USS Warrington. I sure am lucky I’m not off in a war zone and get to spend my birthday with family and friends.

The loot and brownies from my 23rd birthday celebration.
Kristina made me brownies and got me grown presents like shoelaces, belts, and the movie 300 for my birthday.

Russell blowing out the candles on his 23rd birthday.
Blowing out candles is still fun no matter how old you are.

1 Year Older And 27 Pounds Lighter

Today is my 23rd birthday. It also happens to be the 1 year anniversary of when I looked in my bathroom mirror and didn’t like what I saw. My belly finally crossed that point of seeming too big and it was time to make a change in my life. Before this epiphany I used to eat whatever I wanted without thinking about the consequences. Things like Chef Boyardee, fast food burgers, and pizza were common items on my menu.

Since then I decided to eat Cheerios in the morning and Healthy Choice dinners at night. I became aware of what I was eating and actively went out of my way to find healthier alternatives. Candy bars from the vending machine everyday quickly add up yet the snacks never seem to provide any satisfaction. It was better for me to avoid them all together.

I even tried to develop an exercise routine by riding my $7 exercise bike which became the topic of my first real blog entry here. I quickly lost interest in the bike and except for my 1.5 miles I cover walking to and from work, I don’t really have any other exercise plan. Relying on watching what I eat alone, I managed to o from a high of 217.4 to a jaw dropping 190.0 today! Check out the graph below:

April 30th 2007 - 217.4 April 24th 2008 - 190.0

I found keeping track of my weight every couple of days really helped keep me focused on my goals. If I began to gain a few pounds I knew I was slipping up and could easily correct myself. Mostly what kept me interested was seeing the patterns that would emerge. I love looking at numbers like my blog stats or my bank account so tracking my weight was fun. Online tools like SkinnyR and The Daily Plate make it a snap to keep an eye on your scale.

I hope to get down my normal weight of 185 pounds later this year. My weight loss has slowed some but it is still inching along ever so slowly. I think I need to buy new belts because there is still some slack when I set it to the smallest hole. I guess that this is just proof that tackling a goal a little bit at a time can yield big results over time.

An Overwhelming Response

Opened up my Gmail this morning and was presented with this…

Thank you all for the congrats and best wishes. Kristina and I really appreciate it!

We’re Engaged!!!

Us shortly after I proposed.

So after 7 years of being together, I finally popped the question to my girlfriend Kristina. I got a call from the jewelers this morning that the ring was ready. I left work early to trek from Georgetown, D.C., to Columbia, Maryland. On the way I got in touch with Kristina’s roommate to coordinate the video/photo taking so we would have this moment recorded.

After I picked up the ring I stopped by her parents house to get their approval. They were shocked but happy for our forthcoming engagement. I also swung by my parents house to give them a preview. Finally I made it down to Kristina’s apartment in College Park where apparently she was asleep. I snuck into Kristina’s roommates room while we coordinated our plan. Then Kristina called me on my cell phone! I rushed to her roommates bathroom and pretended that I was home at my apartment. She totally took the bait.

The engagement ring I got Kristina

While she was on her computer checking e-mail, the time was right to strike. I knocked on her door and then got down on one knee. See for yourself:

As you can see she had no idea what was coming and she said YES! We’ll be starting our own blog at or I own both of them but we still need to formulate our design. We spent the rest of the night calling friends and family and sharing our joyous news.

P.S. Save the date, March 20th, 2010!

Celebrating Our 7th Anniversary in Baltimore

On March 21st, 2008, Kristina and I have been together for 7 years. Most of our anniversaries were spent apart while I was in college up in Philadelphia and Kristina was studying in Maryland. This year we wanted to mark the occasion in a special way by going to a bed and breakfast in Baltimore.

Baltimore Skyline

The Inn

After weeding through the several different options available we chose the 1840’s Carrollton Inn just outside of the inner harbor. We stayed in the Independence suite which has burgundy walls, French Bonaparte furnishings, and a whirlpool tub. Upon entering our suite I was in awe. Kristina was really happy with our selection too. In fact we were both so pleased with the room that we cancelled our dinner reservations at Aldo’s and ordered in from Velleggia’s.

The Bed Room at the 1840’s Carrollton Inn

The Waiting Room at the 1840’s Carrollton Inn


Best Grad Schools: What A Difference A Year Makes

For the past month I have been working feverishly on the latest release of America’s Best Graduate Schools put out by U.S.News and World Report. Today we finally launched it to the public and I wanted to show the difference between last year’s release and this years.

The old Best Graduate pages were constructed with several year old PHP code and hosted on a couple of Apache servers. Much of the layout was done with tables (spacer .gifs ugh…) which became very difficult to manage after many annual revisions.

Old Best Graduate Schools Screenshot

This year we decided to re-do the whole thing with a new look and a new Zope backend. The HTML and CSS code was completely modular for maximum efficiency. It was actually a lot of fun seeing the whole thing come together.

New Best Graduate Schools Screenshot

So have a look around the new site and let me know what you think. You can see the official blog post about all of the new features and functionality here. If you want to know some of the technical details, leave a comment. There was a lot of mental energy that went into the design of the site. But now I’m beat from the pre-launch stress and look forward to getting to bed before midnight.