Saturday, December 13, 2008

The end of BryceDrives as we know it?

Maybe... Maybe...  until 2009 traveling will be limited to within the listening area of 93 WXRT

Until then, pull up a chair and enjoy some third rate blogging.

I could lament over the boring awkwardness that life in Woodstock brings, that has to wait for later because I spend every waking moment armed with a shovel, road salt, and an armada of curse words that would leave even the most hardened long-haul trucker at a loss. 
I spend my days stuck in the snow.
This loosely fits the literary scope of this endeavor.  I am Bryce, I drive into snow, and the misery never ends.  Until Tirerack.com ships my snow tires I will be that guy sliding around the roadways, spinning out on onramps, and spending time in ditches... day and night.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Schaumburg, The Economy and The Home Office

Times are tough, not quite soup line tough but definitely dollar menu tough.  On account of this budget setback I've found myself working in the Schaumburg office for November and December.  I've traded my deluxe hotel room for a country estate I've got to keep people from breaking into.  
I have replaced traveling the country with traveling along I-90, only to travel back to the quietest house on the face of the earth.  
It gets rather quiet out here, but its like a tutorial in being a grown up.  I get to enjoy mundane tasks such as gutter cleaning, snow removal, keeping the wildlife from destroying the garden, and turning off lights to save money.  Time to create a social life in Woodstock again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Bold Concoction

Now I'm no expert on fine dining but in my line of work I've picked up on a thing or two.  Sushi should never come packaged from the store, Krystal is a more mustard fueled White Castle and...
Seafood + Dairy≠ A Bar

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jersey... Mmm Mmm Good

After a nice drive from Boston down through Rhode Island and Connecticut I spent a lovely rush hour in New York City.  It was a crowded mess of traffic and bridges that I didn't want to end. While traffic is never any fun, I knew full well that once it was over I'd be in New Jersey.  

I hate New Jersey... Hate it so much I'm starting to like it.  
When I'm outside Jersey I hate it, once entering it's even worse... then it grows on you.
Like the night manager of the Camden Taco Bell on the Marlton Pike, this state keeps it real.
Where else can you enjoy the cheapest gas prices in the country and not even have to pump. 

I've got to admit that there are some very nice areas of the state, occupied by some very nice people.  I just happen to be in a line of work that didn't take me to those places.  If I was working in a high class suburb of New York or a coastal town on a beautiful day this entry could have been very different.  
New Jersey is a state that everybody loves to hate.  I've collected a array of pictures from Google image search.  I didn't go and type Jersey Guido, industrial waste or garbage whore, just a simple "New Jersey".  Still with such a fair and balanced keyword I received some photos that cast Jersey in a profoundly negative light.  

Here Miss New Jersey is representing her people in a way typical of the Jersey girls I've seen.
These fine young gents keep the tanning salons and DUI lawyers in business.
Here is a shirt that tries to sum up the New Jersey Transit Authority riders.

My Jersey experience started right off the Jersey Turnpike in North Arlington.  The towns are a mix of industrial wasteland and single family homes.  
I was sure to stop by Pizzaland for a delicious snack treat.  A popular landmark from the Sopranos, this place is sure to take years off your life with the cup of pure grease that hovers on top of the cheese.  After that I left North Jersey for Philadelphia's cheapest hotels located across the river in Cherry Hill, NJ.  That night, in true Jersey fashion, we hit up the clubs.
 What we've got here is a typical nightclub, lots of hair gel and highlights in this crowd.  But one of these doesn't look like the others, and he's rocking the white shirt and black tie.
Dressed like Harvey Keitel and dancing like a molester this guy was unstoppable.  He reminded me of Carl from Aquateen Hunger Force, only gayer.  I guess he's a sort of local celebrity and has been showing up for years.  
His pelvic thrust dance moves, the bar full of bad remixes to average songs and the fact I'd been up for 19 hours had me looking for the door.  Little did I know the night had a good three more hours in store for me.

Below is a picture, I walked across it.  My coworker's friends insisted the walk was a good 15 to 20 minutes.  They were also pissed at our liberal views at the time.  With a dead cell phone and dew covered grass I began the long trek as I raced to beat the sun home.  But they supported a McCain/Palin ticket, so I got the last laugh.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Maine: New England's Wisconsin

I had to drive up to Bar Harbor to check on a few HU's (that's housing units for the non-Nielsen readers).  It ended up being some extremely easy work, just drive up there, make sure the houses are still standing, eat lobster and leave.  
Acadia National Park fell right in the middle of my survey.  It's a beautiful area but there are key indicators that reveal this area is indeed a tourist trap.
A massive ship docked in the harbor is the first sign this place is gonna be chock full of slow moving, photo snapping, T shirt buying tourists.  
The cruise tender boats shuttle the elderly vacationers to buy trinkets and to ask why I'm dining alone.  After I explaining my job I then hear them out on what their favorite shows were, why they think the shows left, and what can be done to get them back.  
The area was amazing but without the time to really experience the place I'm going to have to add it to the list of sights I've visited but haven't really explored.  I need to go back, hopefully before I'm a aging retiree who lives for souvenirs and early bird specials.

Monday, October 13, 2008

S.S. United States

While driving across South Philly I saw two huge red stacks of Cold War era nautical prowess.
The SS United States is the largest passenger ship ever produced in the US. It can keep pace with a modern day cruse ships top speed going in reverse.
It still holds records for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic and could reach 50 MPH.
There are currently efforts underway to restore the ship, I really hope they can because I'd take this thing over a crowded jet any day. Go Wikipedia S.S. United States cause if you're on my blog, I know you've got some free time on your hands.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Abandoned Asylums = A Great Time

While working in Worcester, MA I saw a particularly sinister looking building in the distance.  I've got a casual interest in old state hospitals, its not the most mainstream thing to be interested in, but its a whole lot better than being into anime or that goth shit.  
These old hospitals are a perfect mix of history, architecture and unpleasantness.  From the mid-1800s to the 1980s these complexes operated in various degrees of effectiveness.  Some were beneficial in treating people, others were basically prisons with doctors instead of wardens.  I just like snooping around these places when I run across one, as they are few and far between.  
A few of the older buildings were being saved but the majority have been leveled, a creepy toothless security guard told me they were preserving some of the complex but had no funding to fix anything.  
Next door to the original state hospital is the "new" complex built in the 1950s.  I stayed away because it was in full operation and teeming with residents.  

VERMONT: not just coffee houses and communes

Nestled between New York and New Hampshire is a place where Subarus are plentiful and the radios never leave NPR.  A place where entire towns economies are based on quaintness and will lose a sizable amount of the population when Phish goes back on tour.  From covered bridges to food co-ops... this is Vermont
The towns are a mix of quaint and trendy with oddball shops, locally brewed beers, and a market saturation of bookstores.  In these towns you find a surprising number of twenty-somethings who divide their time between the plentiful bookstores and the overabundance off coffee shops.  God forbid anyone actually works for a living.  
I had to meet with building inspectors in 6 rural offices surrounding Brattleboro.  To keep with the image of quaint small living, these offices keep antiquated hours they rarely agree to stick to.  Open 10-2 except for Wednesday when its 7-9, except during maple syrup season when its by appointment only keeping in mind they're closed on the 2nd Tuesday of each month and that hours can get adjusted for apple cider pressing season.  
This mess kept me driving around for two days of data collection and cursing to myself.  This was followed by a day of trying to find new constructions hidden in the rolling hills of Windham County.  This is honestly a beautiful place, but its damn near impossible to accomplish anything in a hurry. Especially when you're in a state where beard growing and bench sitting are local pastimes.  
My hotel was a restored 1930s Art Deco building with old movie theater and microbrewery attached.  It was really nice except for the shitty wifi and the death trap elevator.  If I unexpectedly had to lay low for a while to avoid serious jail time, I'd put Vermont top on my list.  

Friday, October 3, 2008

Niagara Falls


A classic tourist trap but still definitely worth checking out.  It was a little out of the way but with free corporate gas and no social life I'm down for whatever.  $13 gets you a walk out on a viewing platform and a ride into the falls on a one foot in the grave ferry overfilled with foreign tourists.  Boats like these get overloaded and sink in developing countries all the time.

The US side of the falls was pretty basic, the Canadian side had been turned into a mini-Vegas, complete with a fake space needle. 
I'm no stranger to a fake space needle, during my work in Las Vegas my hotel had a pretty good view of this.
My Pacific Northwest trip last October introduced me to the genuine article in Seattle.  Honestly though, these things are kinda a waste.  All they're good for is spicing up a skyline, my vote goes to the Stratosphere in Vegas, at least that one is a casino.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A week in Boston

This the type of town I could spend a few days in, 
Boston the city that keeps the roof blazin...

Will Smith lyrics aside, Boston has impressed me to be one hell of a town.  Back in July of 2007 Boston was my very first Nielsen business trip, and I hated this place.  I blame that entirely on bad traffic and NHTI.  The bad traffic is still here, but this maintenance assignment is turning out to be some real cupcake work.  NHTI was a unbearable project for the hispanic TV networks, maintenance is basically spending a day driving to Cape Cod to make sure an apartment building is still there.  
The hotel was North of the city in Woburn, but with a commuter rail line next door I'm pleased to report logistics did not get in the way of a drunken good time.  A coworker had some friends who lived in the Boston area.  This really helped get a local perspective on the area.  Everything from good bars, the finest in local dining, and even an awkward house party full of stereotypical New England WASPs.  
Marshfield, MA is south of Boston and was a delightfully easy assignment.  The tide pools at low tide are full of small fish that spend the day hiding from seagulls. 
Mike hitting rock bottom...
The plunger tells the story better than I ever could, hope to Christ he doesn't check my blog...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Budget Cuts

Cost savings in rural New York.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Three out of Five Great Lakes... Not Bad

I score a 60% in my tour of the Great Lakes.  After making stops in Chicago and Detroit my Rust Belt Odyssey took me to Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo.  These are cities that I'd like to like more. Nothing wrong with them, I just wasn't about to start looking for a realtor.  This area of the country has some of the lowest costs of living, a pretty sweet deal considering my mediocre means.  

The only thing i had previously known about Toledo is that Maxwell Klinger from M*A*S*H* had called it home.  Now I know another thing about Toledo, it's kinda boring.  Clean, friendly, boring...  Pretty much sums it up.

Cleveland has more going for it but has a really weak downtown.  Lake Erie is no Lake Michigan, Cleveland is more of a Milwaukee than a Chicago.  It has the whole Pittsburgh Rust Belt look going on, but Pittsburgh had more character.  

Buffalo was rainy and grey, it was full of Cubans honking horns and walking slowly across the street in a diagonal manner.  The rain got worse and I moved North.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Almost there...


Something is going on under the surface, a quiet and persistent movement that is gathering strength.  This isn't a reference to Obama's convention speech, this is much less important.  This is a free Weber Genesis gas grill via Marroitt Rewards Points.  All these surveys marked in yellow result in a rather choice $1000 stainless steel grill.  This post may lower the bar, but I'm living the dream.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm so bad I vacation in Detroit



That title is completely accurate so long as you replace vacation with survey and bad with horribly unlucky.  Detroit has been dealt a rough hand for the past few decades. As I arrived at the formerly swanky Residence Inn of Dearborn the mayor of Detroit was being kicked out of office.  Both the Obama/Biden and Palin/McCain campaigns were in town speaking out to unemployed and underemployed residents of this rust belt city.  I hope there is a brighter future for this area but some neighborhoods are a modern day Hooverville.  
I had a good time driving around the city and exploring abandoned neighborhoods.  I felt completely safe because nobody was there, even crackheads have moved on up from the worst of it.  The only other people were hipsters exploring abandoned warehouses and Tigers fans getting a final glimpse of Tigers Stadium before it becomes yet another vacant lot in the neighborhood of Corktown.  
I was shocked at the number of American cars on the road, it was nearly 95% American made.  The area is proud of their hometown companies.  There is even a Ford Taurus exhibit at the Henry Ford museum, they love 3rd generation Tauri.  
From what I saw Detroit was once a hell of a place, I hope the worst of it is behind them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Utah...

Nestled between Nevada and Colorado an is oddity of  Mormon influenced culture; Utah the weakest state of the West.  It brings very little to the table as a state being seriously outclassed by its neighbors.  The cities are chock full of high-end ski boats on trailers in driveways while its largest lake is a brine filled wasteland.  Bars are few and far between, they're technically illegal but fly under the radar because they're private social clubs.  These social clubs are different than actual bars in two very big ways.  First, the cover charge is hefty because it actually a temporary membership.  The other key difference is people tend to get married early in Mormon culture, so there are limited prospects as far as finding single women.  Its like arriving to a party two years too late.  
Dining in the Salt Lake area is a culinary delight, the bacon cheeseburger has been replaced with the pastrami cheeseburger, pretty gross but I had to give it a try.  Those inventive people of happy valley also decided that while fries are unhealthy they could do one step worse and supplied the region with fry sauce.  Fry sauce is a concoction of ketchup and mayonnaise blended together.  While all fry sauce is gross be sure to get fresh fry sauce, premixed sauce is packaged in small containers, usually kept in some back store room in the sun.
With all these setbacks stacked against me, I was shocked that two months in Utah was a legitimately good time.  This is partly because its a place I would have not otherwise visited. It can be assumed that Vegas, New York City, Disney World and The Grand Canyon can be seen by John Q. Tourist.  Utah was a experience because it was seeing day to day life in areas not covered by anybodies summer vacation. 



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

i am the road warrior

Here comes a blog that highlights a business trip that has me testing the limits of Marriott Rewards Points, the number of possible Denny's build your own Grand Slam combinations, and how many hookers are gonna holla at me from their corner before I quit it all and settle for a nice desk job.  
The blog starts a cool year and a half into my interstate adventure.  So far work has taken me through 24 states, 14 rental cars, 150,000 Marriott points, and 7 situations involving our men and ladies in blue. 
When I'm not dining in the finest of chain casual dining restaurants or taking in the culture of fine men's room graffiti, my time is spent setting up the Nielsen TV Ratings.  

Keep posted for updates... It's not like i've got anything better to do.