Compartment3 - September 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


The Missus and I were pretty lucky as far as Hurricane Isabel was concerned.  We didn't lose power at all.  Some people at work had just gotten their power back yesterday.  Yuck!  Here in Northern Virginia, we needed to boil our water throughout the weekend, since there was some fear that it could be contaminated.  Turned out to be fine, but we had plenty of bottled water around.  Right before the storm, the Missus headed out to buy survival necessities like water, Spam, powdered milk, and deviled ham.  And some really big cans of tunafish.  Mmmm.

My office closed down on Thursday and Friday, so I didn't have to cross the river.  But, since I am now in the world of government contracting, I will have to make those hours up somehow.  Today, I did have to cross that damned river, and since we got pounded last night with even more rain, plenty or roads were closed.  And of course the ferry was shut down.  It took me an hour and a half to get to work.  (I'm trying to think of a good joke here or at least something halfway humorous here, but it's all I can do to keep from crying.)

I hope everyone is safe and sound and having fun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


Today was the 4th Annual Hak Chul Chung Memorial Tournament benefitting the American Cancer Society at lovely Bull Run Golf Club.  This is a golf tournament that I play in every year, sponsored by my friends at  It's always fun to play because it's “best ball.”  Everyone on each team tees off, then the captain gets to choose which ball to use for the next shot.  The players then shoot from this position.  It takes a lot of pressure off of you because you know that if you hit a bad shot, it won't matter as long as someone else on your team hits a better one.  For relatively poor golfers such as myself, it gives us a rare opportunity to shoot below par.  Our team finished with a score of 7-under-par (mostly due to the efforts of our captain, John Vrankovich.)

The highlight of the day for me took place on the dreaded 18th hole.  This is a hole that, and let me be frank here, I have been afraid of for a long time.  When I first started golfing, we played Bull Run every once in a while and each time we played, the course would kick my ass.  It's a tough course, not made for beginners.  The worst part was the 18th hole.  It's actually quite beautiful, but the green is guarded by a large pond.  After avoiding the grunge around the tee area and along the sides of the fairway, you need to hit a good shot to carry the water.  Now this isn't so bad, but for a beginner with an irrational fear of hitting his ball into the water, well, let's just say that I sacrificed many, many golf balls to the water gods there.  (There's this one lonely tree that grows near the landing area across the water.  I remember one really nice, strong shot over the pond, that struck the tree dead center, right in the middle of the trunk.  A million-to-one shot.  Three inches to the side in either direction and I would have been golden, but, nope, right into the tree and plop—into the water.)

Today, I played it perfectly.  Partly it was because there was that best-ball lack of pressure.  I crushed my drive over the bunkers.  The ball bounced down the back of the hill and rolled into the fairway, 200 yards from the hole, and about 280-plus yards from where I'd hit it.  One of my best drives ever; certainly the best ever on that damned hole.  The next shot—I went first on our team—was a really sweet three wood over the water onto the green.  Yes, that's right, over the water and on the green!  This would have been enough to keep me grinning all night, but I also made the putt!  A three on a par 5.  Eagle!  On 18!  I had conquered the water gods.  There should have been a parade.

It must be my lucky day.  At the dinner afterwards, I won $223 in a drawing, and a set of fairway woods as a door prize.  Maybe I should pick up a lottery ticket.  Or maybe I should just hope that my luck keeps us safe from Hurricane Isabel.  Good luck to you!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

How I asked Linda to Marry Me

I had planned to do this closer to our anniversary, but, as you are probably tired of hearing, Faithful Reader, I've been really busy this week yet again.  Soon I'll tell the story of why I've been so busy the last couple of weeks, but for now, the story of how I asked Linda to marry me.

It was April 1999, and we were in San Juan, Puerto Rico on the first day of our vacation. We had a room in a beautiful bed and breakfast called the Gallery Inn in Old San Juan.  The inn was in a 300-year-old building right along the sea wall of the city.  The proprietor of the inn gave us a tour.  Each room was decorated in a different artistic motif.  In the center of the building, a plant filled courtyard was dominated by two towering palm trees.  On the roof, a wooden platform held tables and chairs and provided a spectacular view of the ocean on one side, San Juan Bay on the other, and all around, the Old City, from El Morro in the west over to San Cristobál in the east.

Walking through the cobbled streets of the ancient city that day was a very romantic experience.  I was going to ask Linda to marry me—I had brought an engagement ring with me from home.  The only questions were: where and when.  We walked by a restaurant on the Calle San Sebastián that looked interesting called the Amadeus Cafe.  I could do it there, at dinner, in front of all those people, all those watching people.  Hmm, maybe not.  I thought about someplace private.  Of course—the roof platform!  How much more romantic could it get?

I was a little bit nervous that evening.  I wanted to surprise Linda, but, as we walked to the restaurant, I was sure that she could see the huge jewelry box in my pocket.  I thought for sure she would figure it out.  After the outstanding dinner, I ushered her back to the hotel, and convinced her to come up to the roof with me.  I was not disappointed with the view, in the warm evening breeze, the Old City was alive with music and people strolling about.  In the distance, a row a brilliantly lit cruise ships were docked on the bay side.  The night was clear and the sky was full of stars.  It was everything I could ask for.  Except for the six other couples sharing the view!

We stayed for a while and then climbed down the stairs.  I put the ring away and we went to bed.  Dammit!

The next day, I resolved to try again.  Since the roof was out, I kept my eye open for another good place.  We spend the day roaming the streets of the Old City again.  We walked through museums, shops and churches.  We saw Ponce de Leon's tomb.  Linda treated me to a piragua from a little stand along the sea wall near San Juan Bay.  As I stood there happily slurping away at this Puerto Rican snowcone, I looked around.  We were in the Paseo de la Princesa, an area in front of a large old building along the city wall next to the bay.  It was a beautiful place, bounded at one side by a huge fountain with an impressive statue in it.  My plan was set.  After dinner tonight, I would gently lead Linda to this place and propose.

After another wonderful dinner (this time at Cafe Carli's, where we heard some great jazz), I suggested a walk down to the bay.  Again, I was sure Linda would notice the ring box in the pocket of my khakis.  As we walked hand-in-hand through the warm night, a man selling roses came up to us.  He smiled at us (or maybe he was leering at Linda) and called me "caballero."  Linda laughed.  "Caballero means gentleman," she explained.  She winked.  "Or stud."  Of course I bought her a rose.  I took it as a good omen as we reached the area in front of the fountain.  Maybe everything would go right tonight, unlike the night before.

No such luck.  The whole area was packed with people.  "Let's walk along the wall," I suggested.  It was a beautiful walk, but crowded.  Families and groups of teenagers passed us.  In the darker corners, couples were smooching.  Now I headed for a long pier where earlier we'd seen fishermen casting lines into the bay.  No luck—there were still fishermen out there, along with some more smooching couples.  

We reached San Juan Gate, which would lead us back into the City, and back to our hotel.  I was resigned to trying again the next day, when we passed by a cute little fountain next to La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion.  I lifted Linda up so she was sitting on the fountain's edge.  Then I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me.  After she said yes, and we did some smooching of our own, she started laughing. "I wondered why you were acting so strange.  And you seemed to be sweating a lot.  It isn't that hot out."  (That should have prepared her for our wedding—but that's another story.)

So as they say, all's well that end's well.  We went back to the fountain the next day to take some pictures, but they couldn't capture the magic of the night before.  And it turns out that maybe it was for the best that I didn't ask her the question near La Princesa, that was originally the city's prison.  That might have been a bad omen.  (Just kidding, honey.  Happy 3rd Anniversary!)

Saturday, September 6, 2003

First Christmas Sighting

Did a little shopping with The Missus today.  We stopped in the World Market near the Dulles Town Center.  Christmas crap!  Shelves and shelves of it.  This is just wrong.

Let me know when your first Christmas sighting was/will be.

Busy Week

It's been a busy week.  I apologize to my Faithful Reader for not blogging.  Here's a quick update, to be followed by some further blogging goodness.

This week was our third wedding anniversary.  We celebrated by dining out at Zeffirelli's, an Italian restaurant that serves a veal chop that is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.  Allow me to do a Homer Simpson: "Mmmm veal chop...ahhhhhhhhgghggh."  That's me drooling.  We tried the new Zeffirelli's in our future hometown of Leesburg instead of the original one in Herndon.  It was really nice.

At work, I'm still learning the ins and outs of my new job.  My new office is in the midst of construction.  They are moving an office from facing one hallway to the next.  They actually cut through drywall to do it.  So I literally am sitting in a hole-in-the-wall right now.  Unfortunately, the office guys won't put a computer in my office until the construction is done, so I need to use the machine of people who are on vacation, which got tougher this week.  I was walking from office to office asking, "Can I have some more computer time, sir?" like a tech-age Oliver Twist.  I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually.