Friday, May 30, 2008


So, I am finally starting to get paid, after a bunch of moving expenses and a couple weeks of working, commuting, eating, and paying other expenses. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family that has helped me make ends meet along the way.

As a result of a dangerously low checking account balance and little cash on hand, I had to get creative with my expenses. I would get gas in less than $10 increments, I became a master of the value menus at Wendy's and Taco Bell, and I spent an extra few minutes go up and down all the grocery store aisles to find the best bang for my buck, without sacrificing quality in the process.

Further complicating the process is the fact that I have such a limit "kitchen" area here. As you can see in the pictures from my previous post, I have a small fridge, a microwave, and small coffee maker. I experimented with different ways of flavoring up some otherwise plain oatmeal, from a dash of salt to picking apart granola bars and sprinkling the contents throughout. I also found ways to make a some stir fry and low mein, cooking different ingredients separately then tossing them all together. And I quickly realized how easy it was to near-boil and poach chicken.

Just a few days ago, I heated up some black beans, cooked some brown rice and a few chicken strips, and threw in some salsa. I found some inexpensive whole wheat tortillas at Food Lion, and with all the cooked items I had a makeshift taco bar. I enjoyed a few burritos (between lunch and dinner), and it barely cost me anything. Rice and beans are super cheap, the salsa was a store knockoff version of tostitos salsa, and the chicken was one of those "manager's specials" -- the food they drastically mark down when it's within a day or two of the "sell by" date on the packaging.

On Thursday, I was looking to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store -- great buys, since you get the whole chicken for a cheap price. I noticed the freshly cooked ones going for about $7-8, but the ones from the morning had been placed in a refrigerated area and were only $4. Brought that sucker home, immediately got to work on it, stripping every ounce of meat from it and nearly filling a large tupperware container. I also picked up a rice cooker from CVS for about $12, so making the rice will be a breeze. I remember in my freshman year of college, I had a roommate who would cook some rice, and after the rice began to soak up most of the water, he would toss a few Taiwanese sausages on top. These are kind of red, and they have a distinct and pleasant sweet flavor. I saw an Asian market on the way back from work the other day, so maybe I can find the sausages and some other goodies at the market.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Lola and Guapo also have enjoyed some of the goodies. I've been breaking off chunks of colby jack cheese (that I've been eating with crackers, like a typical Cuban), and they helped me finish a chicken burrito just a couple hours ago.

Next up, I have a package of ground turkey, and I want to see if I can make a decent chili without a stove or crock pot / slow cooker. I'll let you know how that works out.

You stay classy,


Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Summer Home

After much delay, I thought I should post up some snapshots I've taken in Spartanburg. Please forgive the poor quality -- the pictures were taken with my camera phone, so they're not exactly 8 mega pixels or anything too precise.

Here are a couple shots from our luxurious Motel 6 room, when we arrived after midnight a week and a half ago. Nothing too exciting, but you can see the dogs hanging out on the crappy bed and the rest of the tiny room is visible, as well.

We stay there for 1 evening and we're gone by noon, and somehow we managed to get locked out of the room twice in that less-than-12-hour period! I left the dogs in the room early that morning, and took off to run some errands. I passed by my new job to pick up some paperwork, and then I had to go pee in a cup to prove in an annoying, but necessary, drug test. After that was out of the way, I set out to visit the first of a few potential housing arrangements. After briefly visiting with the landlord at Campus Place, right by USC Upstate, I figured the accommodations were good enough, and the location is very convenient. Most importantly, however, the rent was the cheapest of all my potential options. So, I signed the lease on the spot.

Once I got all of my stuff moved into the room, I started rearranging the furniture and tried to get the converted hotel room to feel somewhat like an apartment and bedroom. Here are the results.

Here is the king size bed that came with the place, and Lola wasted no time making my 1 pillow into a dog bed:

The stud, Guapo, immediately claimed the lazy boy recliner. I can almost hear him shouting, in his Borat voice, "King of the Castle, King of the Castle!" from the seat:

There were no closets with the place, but there was a rack with some hangers by the front door:

Notice the bathroom to the left, and the front door to the right

For non-hanging items, I was able to stash them in a drawer somewhere, or one this table by the front of the room:

And since this used to be a hotel room, there isn't a kitchen. Fortunately, the room came with a fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. Here's my "kitchen" for the summer:

Finally, since I moved to Spartanburg for a job, it is only appropriate that I set up my "office" somehow:

Here are a couple wide shots of the room, so you can see how everything is arranged:

And this is my humble abode for the summer months. I'll be here through late July, until road trip vacation with my dad, following by a month of legal job fairs and traveling.

For now, I'm going to take advantage of this long weekend to get some work done. So, I'll be hunkered down in my "office" - see the picture above.

I hope everyone has a happy, long Memorial Day weekend. Be sure to pay your respects to the veterans.

You stay classy,


Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

As most people look forward to this particularly long weekend, looking forward to getting some extra time off of work, and taking advantage of a long weekend to go on a fun trip and/or visit with family, I will have a slightly different experience.

1. My summer job is paid by the hour, and being a temporary, hourly employee, I don't get compensated for the work-free Monday holiday. I also don't get a dime for the half day at work yesterday. Fortunately, my boss said I could bring some work home and clock some additional hours to compensate for the time off. That definitely should help.

2. I am in Spartanburg, South Carolina, about 7 hours from my dad and 10 hours from my mom. So, I probably won't see any family members this weekend. I still don't know if I'll be able to grill out a bit on Monday. We'll see.

3. I have a research position for the dean of my law school, so I'll be putting in a good amount of work for that over the weekend.

Basically, since I haven't been paid for either job yet, my balance is running a bit low at the moment. So, my travel options are quite limited, and I'll probably just sit tight. It gives me a good excuse to stay in and put in a good amount of hours, though, so it should pay off in a couple weeks.

At least I've got L & G keeping me company. Maybe we'll have our own little Memorial Day BBQ.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back to Work

I knew I was out of shape, but damn... I just went up 12 flights of steps, and I got pretty winded. As soon as I get outa work, I'm going for a long run!

You stay classy!


- Posted using Pocket Watch Software Mobile GBlogger.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

PETA is an Attention Whore

So, I went to my company's shareholders' meeting this morning, and the otherwise dry and uneventful hour-and-change had memorable moment. At the end of the board's presentation, the forum opened up for comments and questions. Aside from the groups of men and women in pricey, formal business attire, was a single young woman. She stuck out like a sore thumb. Sure enough, when the time came for questions and comments, her she thrust her right arm straight up in the air. I could almost hear her thought, "Oh! Oh! Me! Me! Please, call on me!" She introduced herself as a representative of PETA, and proceeded with a 5 minute speech on how certain practices of slaughtering chickens are more humane, and wanted to know if the company would do anything to encourage and to promote this PETA-preferred method. It seems this appearance was not a surprise to the board, as a generic, prepared statement was read in response. I thought it particularly humorous and ineffective that PETA would waste resources to send a representative to a breakfast restaurant board meeting, given the nature of what food products are typically offered at a breakfast. I don't know about you, but I usually don't ask for chicken in my omelette. Now, if they wanted to protest the killing of pigs, that might make a bit more sense.

All this talk of pigs and breakfast made me think of ham and bacon. Man, I am such a carnivore. I don't know how anyone could get by as a vegatarian.

For some background information: Coming into this event, my supervisor / boss had mentioned the interruptions and protests of PETA in years past, and he hoped history would not repeat itself. They have had incidents where individuals showed up and protested outside the corporate headquarters wearing a chicken suit. Fortunately, the sole representative from PETA conducted herself in a respectful manner, sitting quietly through the presentation, and making her timely comment and question at the end.

That story reminded me of an incident last year, when I was visiting my father for the Christmas season. It was a Saturday afternoon, and we all went to the local mall to eat at a Chili's restaurant. Outside the main entrance to the mall stood about 15 PETA protesters, one of them dressed up like a fox. The animal... not an attractive woman (I mention that because PETA has drawn attention by sending young, attractive females to events in their bikinis to attract attention). In any case, this bunch of PETA folks was protesting the sale of fur and leather goods, citing the cruel and unhumane treatment of the animals from which the materials are "harvested."

I found this spectacle to be silly, but what I witnessed soon thereafter elicited a "laugh out loud" response. About 10-15 minutes after we sat down to eat, we observed through the window a group of people setting up something directly across the street from the PETA bunch. At first, we could not determine what it was that they were up to, immediately assuming they were affiliated with PETA as well. However, within a few minutes it was quite obvious that they were there not to protest fur and leather, but rather the PETA protest, itself. This mostly-male group pulled out a BBQ, and started grilling ribs and burgers and chicken, with a breeze sifting what must have been a delicious scent of grilled meat in the direction of the presumptively-vegan PETA protestors. Such moments make me proud of this country's protection of free speech.

So, I got to wondering... how many leather jackets did PETA prevent from being sold? And going back even farther, how many cows avoided slaughter because of PETA protesting in front of a shopping mall? I'm pretty the number is pretty close to a whopping zero.

Which brings me to my point, a natural conclusion: PETA is an attention whore. Maybe the organization was founded on some sound principles. Hell, I have had many pets and I am all in favor of treating animals with some dignity. But these loonies have gone overboard a bit. These protests and spectacles probably do more to HURT their cause that they do to convince people to change their consumption - be it food or shopping.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back to Work

So, I had a pretty relaxing weekend, unpacking the rest of my stuff and getting settled in. I drove around a bit, scoping out Spartanburg and seeing what it has to offer.

One thing that immediately stood out was that everything shuts down Sunday afternoon. I went online to find a mass schedule for a nearby Catholic church, but the latest mass was at noon. Oops. Well, now I know.

Another thing that became obvious to me was the fact that I spent all my money in the move up here. Correction: my money AND the money my parents spotted me for the move. Sheesh, I can't stand being broke. I need this 3rd year of law school to zip by, so I can start racking up my billable hours! =)

Anyway, I just got back in from work a few minutes ago. I'm going to heat up a microwaveable dinner (no stove or oven, just a fridge and microwave!), kick back, and watch some of the news and political coverage. Then I need to do some more work for my research position.

By the way, I'm pretty psyched about tomorrow. I get to sit in on a shareholders' meeting at 9AM. That should be an interesting experience.

All right, I'll try to get back on here for a new post tomorrow evening.

Until then, you stay classy


Thursday, May 15, 2008


So, I get to my new internship at the legal department of corporation best known for its breakfast, and all is going well. I go from office to office, meeting all my new co-workers and superiors, shaking many hands and exchanging many pleasantries. Then I make arrangements for my parking and security passes and get a short tour of certain parts of the building. After all that, I get right to work in my quasi-cubicle -- more of an artificial room than a typical cubicle.

Shortly after I get to work, I am overcome by a sudden, strong sense of exhaustion. I was quite anxious the night before, so I got to bed kind of late and had trouble sleeping. But I thought the solid 5-6 hours that I DID sleep would've sufficed. "Man, I feel so incredibly tired," I remember thinking to myself. I made several trips to 17th floor, the top floor of the building and the site of the free fountain beverage station -- serving only Coca Cola products. After downing Diet Coke and Coke Zero like my very life depended on it, I was still struggling to make it through the morning.

Around 11:30, the company had a big meeting, somewhat resembling a high school pep rally, to talk about new initiative for the upcoming summer months. They unveiled, among other things, some new breakfast ideas. As I sat there listening and watching, and thinking to myself, "Man, those items look good," I barely managed to stay awake. Since they were unveiling three initiative for May, June, and July, they chose a baseball for the event and called it their "Triple Play" plan. Going with that theme, they provided us with a baseball-themed lunch, including hot dogs, big pretzels, popcorn, and chips. The only thing missing was the beer -- which really would've sealed the deal, but probably would not do much for employee productivity!

"Oh boy, being as tired as I am, having lunch will be like the 'nail in the coffin,'" I remember thinking to myself. But I concluded that it would be difficult to make it through the rest of the day without having a bite to eat, and since I spent all my money in the move up here (gas, snacks, rent, etc.), I couldn't pass up a free meal. So, I snagged a couple hot dogs, had about half a pretzel, and a couple mini-bottles of Dasani water. As I sat at a table by a window, overlooking the Spartanburg area, I suddenly began to emerge from my sluggish state. Within minutes, my energy level soared, and I felt like I had taken a serious power nap. This was a bit confusing, since I am accustomed the post-lunch "crash" that I have experienced so many times before. Then it dawned on me... I hadn't eaten any breakfast. The last I had eaten was a delicious meal at my friend Jonathan's home the night before. So, I had gone about 18 hours without a bite to eat. No wonder I felt so weak and tired! Marta (my lovely girlfriend) constantly nags me about eating breakfast, harping on how it's the most important meal of the day -- which we've all heard many times over the years.

Thus, the irony: I struggled to stay awake and alert all morning at my new internship, working for a popular breakfast joint... all because I didn't eat breakfast.

You stay classy


Day 1 at the New Job

I had a great time getting acclimated at the new job today, but it's been such a long day that I hardly have the energy to write a blog post -- plus, I need to get to bed already. But I have a story coming up, so be sure to check in tomorrow evening for a story of great irony.

Until then, you stay classy!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Beacon Drive-In

As I was getting settled in, and waiting for the dogs to adjust to their 4th bedroom in 2 weeks -- the 3rd in 24 hours -- I received a phone call from Patrick (the student who had recommended the Denny's job and "Campus Place" to me), inviting me out to lunch with his wife and daughter. We opted to check out the infamous Beacon Drive-In (, a local burger spot where you almost get as much meat as you do grease. The menu is huge, and they have some delicious burgers. As I approached the blind gentleman standing at the front of the ordering line, he shouted, "Caaaaaall It!"

As we attacked the orgy of beef, fries, and onion rings, Patrick's daughter nibbled on some peas and chick peas (brought from home). She is the most adorable thing I've ever seen, at only 10 months old. I offered her a french fry, but since she didn't know me, she looked it over and held it for a few minutes before hesitantly nibbling on it. After that, she wanted nothing to do with the peas and beans, and she demands more fries from her mom. They joked that I had "created a monster" by offering the fry.

The Beacon also touts it famous sweet tea, which I had no clue was this popular in the South. I have friends from Georgia and South Carolina who would always order sweet tea at restaurants, but I had no idea it was such a big deal to have really good sweet tea. And boy, was this tea tasty! All in all, I had half of an amazing burger, a few fries, a few onion rings, and two cups of tea, for about $7. It was very tasty, but incredibly filling (and guilt-inducing).

But I definitely will be back... particularly if my girlfriend, Marta, comes to visit -- she's very conscious of what she eats, always opting for healthy options when we go out (though she'll pick at my food without a problem). I can't wait to see her reaction when we enter the restaurant, with the aroma of fried onions permeating throughout, and the blind guy at the beginning of the line shouting "Caaaaaaaaaall It!" It was an experience I knew was inevitable, so I am glad I got it right away. For those of you who are from the Atlanta area, or at least have been there long enough to check out some of the local and well-known burger joints, think of this town's version of Atlanta's "The Varsity" ( Apparently, the place is so well known that Guy Fieri from Food Network, did a feature on the place for his "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" show (Diners A-Plenty, Episode DV0111).

If you're ever in town, or want to pay me a visit here in the 'Burg, this is definitely a place to check out.

You stay classy,


Spartanburg -- Day 1

I arrived in Spartanburg last night, around midnight, where I begin my internship with the legal department at Denny's tomorrow morning. Getting in so late, I opted to stay as the cheapest option possible -- Motel 6 for $32. Lola and Guapo (shown below) came along for the trip, and they were noticeably uncomfortable with the new accommodations. But after about 20 minutes, they settled down and started playing on the bed. I did notice that the sheets and pillow cases had not been washed, or if they had, they hadn't been bleached, because there some nasty reddish-brown smudges left behind. So, grabbed some new sheets from the front desk, tuned in to Conan for his opening monologue, then I turned in for the night.

I woke up this morning at 7AM, to my obnoxious-yet-quite-effective alarm on my phone, set to the infamous "Hello Moto" ringer, where a male voice loudly says the aforementioned words, followed by some techy music for a few seconds. I have found the more obnoxious the sound, and the farther it is from the bed (so you have to get up), the more effective the alarm.

I usually shower just before going to bed, so as to avoid dirtying the sheets and getting my hair gel all over the pillow sheets. But since this was the first time I've been up this early for a couple weeks -- since my last exam at W&L this semester -- I figured I'd save my shower for the morning, as a soothing, relaxing way to ease my way into the day. Yeah, not happening. I turn the knob and a fire hose of a shower head zapped the opposite wall of the shower. I looked for a knob to adjust the straight-ahead, "fire hose" setting to more of a spray, but I came up empty-handed. I did wake me up, though.

After walking the dogs for a few minutes, I was off to check out Spartanburg, and I had a number of errands to run. First thing's first -- I had to take a preemployment drug test. It was nearby, and it only took a few minutes. Then I made a stop at the bank and was off to check out some housing that was recommended to me by a fellow W&L Law student (Patrick), who also had recommended the Denny's job to me (and subsequently interviewed me).

When I arrived at "Campus Place" -- advertised as an off-campus student housing alternative to the dorms for USC Upstate students (as well as student from other local schools), I thought I had reached the wrong destination. I saw a sign that read "Hotel Parking Lot" and thought I had made a wrong turn. But sure enough, a student unloading grocery bags from her car assured me it was the right place. Once inside the lobby, it was obvious to me that the building once was a small hotel. When I went to scope out the room, which looked like an obvious hotel room , I immediately noticed the little plastic "channel list" sitting on the nightstand. It prominently displayed "Days Inn" atop the list. Yes, this building used to be a Days Inn. That explains the little ice bucket in the room, and the cable tv channel list, and the 2 yellow phone books and bible in the nightstand drawer. However, there also is a refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker. Sadly, there is no kitchen in the room, but I may procure a plug-in single burner stove top at the nearby Walmart. That way, I can at least make my Cafe Bustelo in the mornings, too. American java just doesn't quite cut it after 26 years of potent Cuban coffee.

Anyway, I just received a phone call from Patrick, and I'm gonna head out for lunch with him, his wife, and his little daughter. I hope to keep up to date with my Spartanburg happenings, so be sure to check in again soon!

You stay classy, Miami (and my fellow future lawyers in Lexington)


Monday, May 05, 2008

Global Warming?

Following up on my previous post from two weeks ago, I just saw on the news that South Dakota got 4 feet of snow two nights ago. I understand South Dakota is way up north... but it's May. As in Summer. I'm back in Miami, and the temps are hanging out in the upper 80s to lower 90s range.