Recent Entries in Personal

Very pixelated and too slow. But still kinda neat.

dumbo brooklyn wedding.jpeg
The photos have been taken, the rooms have been cleared, and the bar tab has been closed.  The wedding is over, and it couldn't have been smoother.  Everything was on schedule and perfect to a T.

We couldn't have done it without the extraordinary help of our friends, especially Emily, Jack, Lauren, Katie, Dana, and James (and Amber for shepherding everything).  Thanks too to everyone at Superfine, especially Tanya, who listened to us belabor, and subsequently oversaw, every bit of minutia before and during the reception.  They're a fantastic restaurant & bar spot, but they could make a killing as a serious catering venue.  And of course the love and support of everyone, friends and family alike, through the wedding itself and for all the days that got us both to this point in our lives. Thank you all!

When the pictures are all done and ready for sharing (timing: TBD), you'll see the 1,384 details Amber put into everything.  Endless signage, table decorations, food display - the works.  I had had a few moderate tasks for preparation, but basically had one major responsibility for the wedding, other than "show up": I made a crossword.

It was of course Amber's idea, as another representation of (one of) us.  It was something for people to do, and I was able to weave it together in a way that promoting socialization between guests.  I've been wanting to actually create a New York Times-compatible puzzle for years, so this was a great foray into learning what it takes.  (Answer: it takes me about 25-30 hours, when trying as hard as possible to not use online tools to help with grid construction or clues.)

The theme was going to be pretty obvious, though I spun some ol' marriage humor into our particular day, so we went with "May Day!" as the title.  I started by generating words and terms that had meaning to us: middle names, birthday months, cats names, etc.  After some time poring over the words list, I decided to run with our favorite things as a couple as the theme.

With several copies of empty 15x15 grids, I started thinking about how to place some of the potential thematic answers, and then began building the grid around it.  Once I had my rotationally symmetric, somewhat strong grid in place, I started working around some of the more obviously difficult letters (i.e. Q), filling in as many other random meaningful words from the original list as possible along the way.

Admittedly, I was forced to turn to the internet for some help with construction, and stumbled on an amazing historical database of Times clues to even help word my clues better.  (I love you, internets.)  I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to doing things like this - for myself, by myself - but I was on a deadline, and honestly I could never have finished this puzzle alone.  (But I will try to do so again in the future.)

When everything was finally completed on paper, Amber and I ran through it once together to double-check for errors and general playability.  (She's becoming an excellent crossword judge, but she also needed to truly earn the title of Editor.)  In the end, we did err with one clue - totally my fault, I rushed and glossed over my Roman numeral clue, 51-Down - which was pointed out to me by our very smart friends at the reception.

Here is our final, fixed wedding crossword puzzle for your enjoyment, "May Day!":

Personal AquaNotes

AquaNotes caught my eye in a recent FastCompany and I thought I'd buy one.  It's pretty simple, and very smart: a waterproof notepad and pencil for capturing ideas in the shower.  I've done the math, and I've lost an average of 19,053 brilliant ideas per year due to the lag caused by lengthy post-shower deodorant sessions.  I've yet to try the pad out in an official Shower Zone, but I thought I'd share this proof-in-pudding video of how well the product works in a constant water stream.

It's actually kind of a funny experience to effectively write in water.  I think our brains are so trained to reject the notion of paper in water being anything less than a soggy mess.  But it worked for me, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the habit of regular showers.

Personal Thirty and Dirty

It's been two weeks and being 30 hasn't killed me. Yet.

Last post on this topic. I just wanted to give a very loud thank you to everyone who came out and celebrated.  Between the brewery and the Bowl, it was an awesome day thanks entirely to awesome friends.  And of course, special thanks n' loves to the missus who set it all up.  You're the wind beneath my chicken wings.


Edamame, my present to myself

New bike: Edamame

Phase 1:

Thumbnail image for 25376_1405681105896_1348457581_1111549_4868243_n.jpg

Phase 2: Bowl with chicken (note Amber's comments)


Thirty and Dirty

Thirty & Dirty.

Today is the big day: 30.  I can still remember where I left my keys and I didn't wake up dead - so far, so good.

Thanks to everyone for your readership and kind words of support over these posts:

Personal Been 2(00)9

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

And in an anticlimactic finish to the personal decade, 2009 was for the most part relatively uneventful.  Amber and I were both fortunate enough to prosper professionally throughout our generations worst economic period, and our kitties kept us smiling for another 365 days (and vice versa).  It hasn't all been lump-free gravy but all in all, it was a pretty good year.

The singular most important thing to happen to me personally was Amber accepting my (fumbled) request for her hand in marriage.  I had staged a dinner out on a Saturday night and surprised her right before we left 123 Awesome Street.  It was a little confusing, the situation, on account of our having spent years talking about not ever actually getting married, instead just living together forever like a pair of Europeans.  But it was an itch I had felt needed scratching for a few months and decided to go for it.  Writing wouldn't give the romantic aspect of the story justice, so I'll leave it at: she said yes, and we're a month away from the wedding.  (Infinite thanks to my friend Lauren for helping stage a fake ring shopping session the week before, to run recon on Amber's ring tastes.  Had we not done so, I would've been way, way off on my ring purchase.)


Grappling with 30 has been a trip in and of itself.  Writing out these major life events, putting things down on paper reminds me that things I've internalized and probably diminished do actually add up to a substantial decade of living.  I certainly can't complain; I should be so lucky to have another 10 years of this fortunate life.

Personal Been 2(00)8

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

2008 was a really rough year.  This blog was also in full swing so if you'd like to read up on anything in particular, just search.  But it's too much to go back and dig into details so I'm going to keep it broad and short.

We noticed Biscuit was sick over the holidays in 2007, and spent the first few weeks of 2008 taking him to the vet, running tests, and trying medicines.  But he had an incurable disease and succumbed to it that March.  It was incredibly painful - it is even now, two years later.  There's really little else to say.  One bright spot though was that we actually got to cremate him (we didn't do it ourselves, obviously).  He's currently in an old Oreo Sandwich tin on a shelf in our apartment.  The tin has the word 'biscuit' on it.

At the end of March, I had a trip scheduled to Ithaca, where I was going to start a three-year stint sitting on an alumni advisory panel for my communications school, the Park school.  A day or so before leaving, I was sitting at my computer with my old flip phone on my desk.  Baker had been walking around the desk, saw the phone, and pulled the classic pat-pat-pat-pat-shove cat move, knocking the phone off the desk, onto the floor, shattering it.  The phone had had a good run - probably over 6 years - but now I needed a new one.  (And despite losing my phone, I still laughed hysterically at what Baker did.)  And with little time until my trip to Ithaca, I needed it fast.  So just as the boys had got me blogging seriously, Baker got me phoning seriously: I bought my iPhone (out of urgency).

A few weeks later, another load of crap in 2008: some heartless, thieving asshole stole my bike; the bike I had had for 13 years, since I was 15 years old.  The thing that gave me freedom before I could drive.  I was sad, and I still miss it, but I was - and am - more pissed about that than anything.  F****** NYC.  (F****** humanity.)

In May, I got a new job, making a bit of a lateral move from one digital industry to another.  My worldview on all things digital, coupled with my awesome iPhone, really started to broaden around this time, as did my socializing.  Despite what the critics say about social media, it's social media that has made me more social in person over the last few years.  I still have some serious introvert issues I grapple with almost daily, but there has been much improvement.

In November, I helped elect President Obama.  That was pretty amazing.

Around this time, and after a few months with just Baker, Amber and I really wanted to find him a playmate.  He is an absolute pistol: great shape, full of energy, and likes to interact.  Usually he's great fun, but he was occasionally a gigantic pain in the butt.  So we window shopped for a little girl at our vets office where they temporarily house foster animals.

We were fortunate enough to find a sweet little doll with a folded ear tip, Zander, who we snatched up immediately.  It took a week of major watchfulness and eased, calculated socializations between her (renamed Scout, after "To Kill a Mockingbird") and Baker.  We had to keep them in separate rooms, with Scout purring lovingly in our bedroom and Baker hissing from the living room, two closed doors away.  But a post-Thanksgiving Day miracle brought the two together, rather quickly after our first big free-for-all: a week of hissing leading to a couch full of kissing.  They still spar as most kitties do but they're both very sweet to one another and melt our hearts often.

Personal Been 2(00)7

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

A few months into 2007, Amber and I started thinking about cats.  We had kicked around the idea of getting pets for a while.  We both love dogs and cats, and Amber really loves fish.  That March, we got our 30-gallon tank and Amber filled it with a bunch of, who knows what kinds.  (To her credit, Amber knows how to arrange a pretty sweet fish tank.)  We had already had a beta fish, Chef Boyardee, that Amber had received for Christmas the previous year.  So by spring, we had plenty of aquatic pets, but we were longing for some furry ones.

As much as we'd love to have a dog, this city wears us down enough; we're pretty sure we wouldn't be able to handle the mandatory, poorly scheduled walks, for starters.  So we started thinking about cats and sure enough, one scorching hot Saturday in August, we found ourselves ogling some shelter kittens at a sidewalk display on the upper west side.  We hung around for at least a half an hour, looking at each kitten individually, assessing their demeanor (poor things were on fire in the heat, so they mostly slept in the shade and drank water), and trying to get a feel for who stood out to us.  And as soon as we thought we had paired two up - we wanted two buddies - as we got ready to "check out", a foster mom showed up and placed two adorable black kitties in a cage.

The Thanksgiving before, in 2006, we had a little love-in incident.  The backyard at my dad's house is a hotbed for stray kittens, and that Thanksgiving night, as everyone peered out the backdoor at the little things on the deck, one of them somehow ended up in Amber's arms, in the house.  She was a tiny black runt, with crusted eyes and a feeble 'mew'; super cute but definitely in need of some TLC.  We tried to get our landlord at the time to let us keep her, but he wouldn't relent.  By that time we had dropped a pretty penny on getting her - Abby - fixed up, and her temporary foster grandparents took a liking to her, so Abby stayed with them (where she lives currently, fat and happy).

At the sidewalk shelter setup, the memory and affinity we had had for little black Abby translated immediately to these two brothers, Cosmo and Pepito.  The second we saw them we hustled over and really lit up; we knew they were the ones for us.  A few conversations, forms, and payments later, we were in the backseat of a cab with two adopted kitties.  After we got home and watched them run around a bit, we started thinking up new names.  The littler brother, Pepito, loved to make "love biscuits" on his older brother; kneading away, face buried.  So we renamed them: Baker and Biscuit.

The first few months of cat ownership was rough, but that all basically boiled down to Baker having a sensitive tummy that couldn't tolerate the food that we were feeding them.  It took us a long time - and a ton of vet bills and medicines - to figure out the cause, but as soon as we made the switch, he was fine, almost immediately.  (As a side observation, as I look through my old blog posts to ensure the correct dates, I remember now that the boys were pretty much the reason for starting this blog.)

Getting Baker and Biscuit was one of the best things Amber and I have ever done.  Ask any adoptive parent: you give these little things a home, and they give you endless love and happiness.  We can't wait to eventually have a real home and yard, and add a dog or two to the family.  If they're even fractionally as fun and loving as our little boys, we'll straight up explode.

Somewhere around this time I changed jobs.  Not much to say on this particular transition.  I went from the studio where Amber and I had met, where I had been for a few months, to trying out a new gig down the street; same work for the most part, different studio.  The job hadn't been a great fit and I had been really frustrated.  My supervisor, with whom I had a great rapport, had moved out of NYC so I was also a bit adrift.  It was the right move at the right time.

(Correction: I switched jobs the year before, in 2006.)

As the year came to a close, my little lady-friend was approaching her big milestone of 30.  I'm a bit of a romantic (yes, I'm boasting) and I know my girl, so a surprise trip to Paris in December was arranged.  The trip was absolutely amazing.  Amber browsed a million side street shops while I stood outside (patiently, I might add!) observing the city.  They say traveling is one of the most stressful times in a relationship, but we had a perfect little trip from top to bottom.  And as much as we didn't want it to end, we had a family to go home to, which was just as exciting if not more so, and warm.

Personal Been 2(00)6

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

On the second day of 2006, Amber and I were officially together.  I'll spare the mushy details, but living in NYC drastically improved.  We were still working together through the winter until her internship ended that March.  (As Amber likes to tell it, we'd secretly make out in the elevators to hide from the bosses.)  She still had that last semester to finish up at Hyper Island, but working full-time and finishing the senior project in the States instead of Sweden was common.  So by mid-March, she went from intern to senior designer at a different shop - leapfrogging a few years of her career plan - and spent the following two months finishing up her senior project.

One Saturday morning in June, we decided to go out to brunch at a diner near DUMBO.  After the meal, we walked around and stumbled on a little real estate agency a few doors down from the diner.  The front door was propped open, and as we looked at the listings in the window, the agent inside said hello and started chatting us up.

At the time, having been together all of about 5 months, Amber and I were still living separately and hadn't had any explicit discussions on moving in together.  Looking in the real estate agency window, we were basically doing The NYC Thing, where everyone looks at real estate all the time, for no particular reason at all.  But a few minutes into our conversation and the real estate agent had us intrigued on a brand new listing that wasn't yet in the window: a garden apartment in a gorgeous Brooklyn Heights brownstone.  So before we knew it, the three of us were walking from the agency to the apartment to scout it out.

Late the year before, not long after I started working at that job, the MTA had a strike and shut down public transportation for a few days.  The two partners put together car pools to ensure we could all get to work in the freezing cold winter.  I had been living in Windsor Terrace, so my ride into the office included driving through Brooklyn Heights to get into DUMBO.  (I had only been living in Brooklyn for about 2 months, so getting around and checking out new neighborhoods hadn't really happened.)  I remember looking out the window as we drove along the stretch of Clark Street, wondering what gorgeous neighborhood we had stumbled into.  In the sparkly cold Brooklyn Heights was magical, and in the ensuing months Amber and I would occasionally sneak walks together at lunch to explore the neighborhood.  It was a kind of coveted plan for us to someday move there, and here we were looking at an apartment together in the today, not the someday.

We weren't - and aren't - one of those couples that rushes into things too quickly.  But in the guise of Amber's rapid career ascent, as we looked at this amazing apartment, we knew we had to have it.  And on July 1, we moved in - together - officially starting our lives together at the newly-dubbed 123 Awesome Street.

Personal Been 2(00)5

On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is part of a very ambitious effort to share each of the last 10 years.  Thanks to Mike and his recap of the 2000's for the inspiration.

Next to 18, 25 was one of the best years of my life.  It was definitely the most lived.

At some point early that year, in conversations about life and the future, a good friend of mine reminded me about the work abroad program he had done right after undergrad.  It was open to full-time students 25 years and under (student status any time within that calendar year), and offered opportunities in a bunch of countries around the world for various lengths.

One thing I had always regretted about my college years was not studying abroad when I had the opportunity.  LA was a popular internship destination for our communications school, but LA is the wrong kind of foreign.  London was another, which I hadn't considered at the time, between being in a puppy-love relationship and just not being mature enough at 19 to take it seriously.  An ex had raved about her UK experiences, and this student program had an 8-month London option.  I had always wanted to see a bit more of Europe than my previous 2 trips to England, and the only other language I speak is some rusty French, so London seemed like a good spot to set up HQ.  So with this opportunity looking like the last one I'd be able to capitalize on as a student, I applied, got accepted, and paid the dues.

I powered through that spring, wrapping up my last semester and generally planning the adventure.  My girlfriend and I had broken up; I was going abroad and she was looking at graduate school in the fall.  Other than my usual 'home base' of Long Island, all of my roots were being uplifted.  I headed to London.

I have a bunch of family in England (paternal grandmother's side).  A cousin I had met twice previously, once in the UK and once in the US, was gracious enough to put me up until I could find a flat to call my own.  It took a few days, but I found a room in a unit with three girls - two Brits and an Aussie - near Kingston, a posh little area about 30 minutes outside the city center.  Until we could get broadband installed, I was splitting my time between preparing documents and making calls at home, and job hunting online with my laptop at the B&N's Starbucks in Kingston.

Through these first few days, I had been having trouble accessing my bank account at HSBC, which I had prepared for international usage before I left the US.  The only way for me to rectify the situation was to head to one of the London headquarters, which was somewhere in the middle of the city.  So on the morning of July 7, as the city reveled in its victorious 2012 Olympics bid from the day before, I woke up, got ready, and made my way to the Kingston station for the train to take me to Kings Cross, where some terrorists were about to blow up a train.

When I don't have a lot of structure or pressure, I tend to take things slowly, especially when it's hot.  (I spend enough time rushing around and being uptight and punctual when I work.)  In a flat with no air conditioning, in a damn hot summer, I was not in a hurry to the train that day.  I must have not turned on the TV at all that morning because within minutes of leaving the flat and getting on the bus heading to the train, someone was already murmuring about some kind of fire or explosion.  I didn't make anything of it; there was no urgency in her voice and everything around me seemed normal.  But when I got to the train station and saw that everything was basically shut down, at that point I figured something serious was up.  I didn't have my laptop, so I headed back to the flat to see what was going on.

I figure I missed the bomb by about 45 minutes.  Kings Cross was my transfer destination so there was a pretty good chance I'd be nothing but rubble right now had I left the flat earlier and traveled with rush hour traffic instead of waiting.  I was shaken up, but I wasn't freaking out.  There was a certain numbness that came with 9/11; I was paying attention and I was absorbing the reality of the situation, but I wasn't breaking down.

At this point, I had almost no cash left in my wallet (though plenty of money sitting in an account I couldn't access), no real job leads to speak of, and now a rampant fear of terrorism at every turn.  The plans were all falling apart instead of coming together.  After a walk through an absolutely dead silent city the following day (and a few horribly tense bus rides), I got into my bank account and had money once again.  London was surprisingly resilient after the attacks; I heard a lot of references to the IRA bombings of years past and how for Brits, domestic attacks weren't entirely new.

I continued to job hunt, but with little luck.  I finally settled on a part-time gig, very similar to my programming / designing / project management job in Ithaca, and I could work from the flat.  It was for a start-up web video company that aspired to be the primary source online for global independent films.  While they had the backing of Microsoft, the company was clearly a disaster.

Everything about my London adventure was becoming a big fail.  I couldn't get a real job (the goal had been to work as a project manager to kick off that career with some international experience), my flat situation was painful, it was hot as hell all the time, everyone in the city was on high alert, but the final nail: London was just boring.  I couldn't seem to pierce through and find the subculture.  Everyone - and I mean everyone - would spend just about every night going to the pub and binge drinking.  (This was the year the Brits repealed the early curfew laws, so had I stayed, I would've been witness to that debacle unfolding.)

London just wasn't a culture I was interested in any longer.  So I set a date, gave my notice, and made some plans.  The one thing I hadn't done was any real traveling.  London was a convenient hub to all of Europe, and I had to take advantage while I still had time.

First, I detoured to the south, to visit some of my lovely British family in Tunbridge Wells (aka The Shire) some of whom I had met previously and others I got to meet for the first time.  We played trivia at their watering hole, The Wheel, and had a grand old time.

I had previously visited my French friend from grad school up in Manchester and met her Aussie boyfriend, with whom I had made plans to go to Oktoberfest in Munich.  So late that September, he met me in London, and we flew out to Germany and had the best beer ever in the best drinking vessels ever (steins are amazing).  When the two days in Munich were over, I hopped over to Oslo to spend a few days with my Norwegian buddy from undergrad.  One day, we drove across a bridge that connects Norway and Sweden, so technically, I also visited Sweden, while my polar bear friend picked up a few sleeves of tax-free smokes.

And when I got back to London in October, after a day or two, I packed up my things and flew home, thinking about what to do next.

It was 2005, and the post-9/11 economy was recovering well, at least in tech and interactive.  While I recouped on Long Island, I had my sights set on working in NYC, the city I grew up with and never thought I'd ever live in.  A bunch of my good friends from Ithaca were living in Brooklyn, and countless other friends from high school, so I would train in to interview and catch up with a few people here and there.  And I got to experience this New Brooklyn, which seemed pretty dope.  There was one particular shop I was most interested in.  It had a good reputation and my in-industry friend, on whom I relied for job advice, was recommending it highly.  So I put on my fancy suit and made my way into DUMBO for the interview.

I got to their office, which had a strange, dot-com-era "funky" organization to it, and wandered around looking for someone, anyone.  Behind one of the cubicle-y walls popped a very cute, very smiley blond girl.  (At the risk of being a cheeseball, that snapshot of the room and Amber's enthusiastic "hi!" is etched in my head for good.)  I interviewed with the partners, I got the job, and I moved to Brooklyn.

Over the last remaining weeks of 2005, I hung out with Amber a couple of times, both with groups and once just the two of us.  We were onto something, but never really talked about it explicitly.  She had been dating someone long distance for a little while, but it hadn't been going well and she had been planning on breaking it off after the holidays.  That Christmas, we spent most of the day flirting over text messages.  I wouldn't get to see or talk to her again until after the new year, but 2005 definitely closed out on a hopeful note.


Right before my birthday in 2005 when I was still in Ithaca, I was at a bar one night with a friend and her boyfriend.  He had asked how old I was going to be, and when I answered, he immediately yelled out, "25 was the best year of my life.  It's going to be awesome.  25 is a great, great year.".  And it was.  2005 was the year it all came together.


Eric Tabone is Operations Manager at the digital strategy consultancy, Undercurrent. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his awesome wife and two kick-ass cats.

All original opinions and commentary throughout this blog (comments excluded) are Eric's alone, and do not necessarily represent Undercurrent in any way.


Recent Entries

  • Monday's lightning storm

    Very pixelated and too slow. But still kinda neat....

  • Wedding Thanks & Crossword

    The photos have been taken, the rooms have been cleared, and the bar tab...

  • AquaNotes

    AquaNotes caught my eye in a recent FastCompany and I thought I'd buy one.  It's...

  • Thirty and Dirty

    It's been two weeks and being 30 hasn't killed me. Yet.Last post on this topic....

  • Recap: Been 2(00)0's

    Today is the big day: 30.  I can still remember where I left my keys...

  • Been 2(00)9

    On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is...

  • Been 2(00)8

    On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is...

  • Been 2(00)7

    On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is...

  • Been 2(00)6

    On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is...

  • Been 2(00)5

    On April 3, 2010, at 3:15pm, I turn exactly 30 years old.  This post is...